Researchers from Ohio State University have learned that listening to music might help prevent epileptic seizures.
The study discovered that epilepsy patients’ brains respond to music differently than those without the disorder would. Naturally, less confronting and more zen-like tunes, like John Coltrane or Mozart, were found to be the most helpful in preventing the depilating seizures that come with epilepsy.
Dr. Christine Charyton, the study’s lead author, told the BBC the majority of epilepsy cases occur in the temporal lobe; where sensation turns into meaning.
“Eighty per cent of people that have epilepsy have temporal lobe epilepsy, which means that the seizures begin in the temporal lobe,” she explained. “The auditory cortex, where people perceive music and hear sound is in the temporal lobe also.”
Usually when a seizure occurs, the person’s brain synchronizes with itself and they lose consciousness. This didn’t happen in Dr. Charyton’s study.
“In our study, nobody had a seizure when listening to the music or during the entire study.”
Professor Sarah Wilson is the deputy head of the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, as well as director of the Music, Mind and Wellbeing initiative at Melbourne University. She’s not surprised at the study’s results, based on what we already know about the brain.
But she suggests a second theory as to why the music was so effective, which could be another study down the road.
“There are two theories as to why listening to music might have benefits for people who have epilepsy,” she said.
“The first is that the music changes the synchrony of the neurons or the pattern of electrical activity in the brain and that it has this ability to normalize that pattern so that it reduces that spiking or the propensity of brains to have seizures.
“The other theory however as to why it might work is to do with mood and there is some compelling evidence around that too.”