Mozart May Alleviate Epilepsy

From a study by Lin LC, Lee WT, Wu HC, Tsai CL, Wei RC, Jong YJ, and Yang RC:

PURPOSE: Certain music has been shown to improve mental function, leading to what is known as the Mozart effect. This study measured the impact of Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, K.448, on different epileptic foci of epileptiform discharge in Taiwanese children (n=58) with seizure disorders and investigated the characteristics of the musical stimulus presented that resulted in epileptiform discharge reduction. METHODS: We examined the relationship between the number of discharges with the foci of epileptiform discharge (n=6), sleep state, gender, and mentality. A continuous electroencephalogram was recorded before, during and after exposure to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, K.448 (piano K.448), and the frequencies of discharges were compared. The study was repeated a week later using digitally computerized string version of the same musical stimulus (string K.448), in patients who responded to piano K.448 with the largest reduction in interictal discharges (n=11). RESULTS: Interictal discharges were reduced in most (81.0%) patients and varied greatly (33.10+/-28.33%) as they listened to the piano K.448 (more fundamental tones and lower harmonics). Patients with generalized or central discharge showed the most improvement. In most patients (76.1%), the decrease in epileptiform discharges continued after the music ended [emphasis added]. The state of wakefulness, gender and mentality did not affect the results. Although the string K.448 had a larger number of higher harmonics in the spectrogram analysis, the discharges were not reduced at all when listening to this music. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that listening to Mozart K.448 for two pianos reduced epileptiform discharges in children with Epilepsy [emphasis added]. This study suggests that it is possible to reduce the number of epileptiform discharges in some patients by optimizing the fundamental tones and minimizing the higher frequency harmonics.

We saw from my earlier posting that Mozart improved EEG coherence, and now we see that it reduces epileptic discharges, regardless of whether the person was asleep or awake, and that it was the original version for two pianos, and not the string version, that did the trick. Although the study authors attribute this to the differences in tone and harmonics, it could be that something larger is at work here (not that what they say isn’t true, just that it may not be the relevant factor). However, one thing stands out to me here: listening to the synthesized or popularized versions of a recording of classical music is not going to have the same effect on your health as listening to the original version, the way the composer intended. So rather than picking up a smorgasbord of the classics, if you’re going to explore classical music, it makes sense to listen to the original intentions of the composer.

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