A new study conducted by researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reveals that the brains of people with epilepsy react to music differently than the brains of those without the disorder. The new research suggests that seizures could be prevented with music.
The researchers analyzed the music processing abilities of the study participants using an electroencephalogram (EEG). They attached electrodes to the scalps of their subjects to detect and record brainwave patterns.
Patients’ brainwave patterns were recorded while listening to a 10-minute silence, followed by either Mozart’s ‘Sonata for Two Pianos in D major,’ andante movement, or John Coltrane’s rendition of ‘My Favorite Things.’ After the first musical piece, the patients experienced two more rounds of silence and randomized music.
The data shows that epileptic patients experience significantly higher levels of brainwave activity while listening to music than their counterparts. Their brainwave activity also tends to synchronize more with the music, especially in the temporal lobe.
“We were surprised by the findings,” says Christine Charyton, Ph.D., and visiting assistant professor of neurology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in a news release.
“We hypothesized that music would be processed in the brain differently than silence. We did not know if this would be the same or different for people with epilepsy,” she added.
A research paper presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention states that approximately 80 percent of recorded epilepsy cases are temporal lobe epilepsy, in which the seizures appear to originate in the temporal lobe.
The temporal lobe is responsible for processing auditory information. It receives sensory input from the ears–such as sound and speech–and processes all the different sounds and pitches into comprehensive information.
Researchers believe their findings suggest that music could be used as a therapy–in conjunction with traditional treatment–for preventing seizures in epileptic patients.