Can Music Help Prevent Seizures?

A recently presented study suggests the brains of people with epilepsy experience music differently than those without the disorder.

“We believe that music could potentially be used as an intervention to help people with epilepsy,” said Christine Charyton, PhD, adjunct professor and visiting professor of neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, when presenting her team’s research at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention in Toronto.

Charyton and her colleagues studied the effects of music on the brains of people with and without epilepsy, in the epilepsy monitoring unit at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center from September 2012 through May 2014. They recorded brainwave patterns while patients rotated between listening to 10 minutes of silence and then songs like Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos” or John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things.”

Charyton said brainwave activity in people with epilepsy “tended to synchronize more with the music, especially in the temporal lobe, than in people without epilepsy.” Temporal lobe epilepsy accounts for 60 percent of all patients with epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. The temporal lobe, where seizures often begin, is also where you’ll find the auditory cortex, which helps the brain process music. The synchronization that Charyton witnessed may suggest that when people with epilepsy listen to relaxing music, it can help prevent seizures. However, the research presented doesn’t suggest music should replace current epilepsy treatments or therapies, but can instead be “used in conjunction” with current seizure prevention methods.

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