Scientists have found that Mozart has an anti-epileptic effect. Epilepsy affects about 60 million people globally. In the U.S alone, nearly 3 million adults and 470,000 children suffer from the illness.
In the study, 18 patients, both male and female, were made to listen to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos K448. Researchers noted that they experienced a reduction in abnormal brainwaves known as epileptiform discharges (EDs) by 32%.
When they played Josephs Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, EDs reduced in the female patients but went up in the male patients by 45%. The researchers used intracerebral electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain before surgery to measure these results.
The Mozart effect
The phrase Mozart Effect was coined by scientists about 30 years ago when they discovered that listening to his music boosted brain activity. Since then, studies have shown that playing Mozart to children and even babies can make them more intelligent.
Professor Ivan Rektor, an epilepsy specialist at St. Anne’s University Hospital, says that they set out to understand the effect and the impact it could have on epilepsy.
Although researchers have claimed that the Mozart effect is due to the emotion evoked by the music, Rektor disagrees with this. According to him, an LED reduction is more significant in the lateral temporal lobe, which is crucial in translating acoustic signals. The brain region that controls emotional responses, the mesiotemporal limbic region, does not experience a considerable reduction.
In addition, the patients were not music experts and showed no preference for Mozart over Hayden’s music. Therefore K448 could not have caused more emotional pleasure than No. 94. Rektor believes that it was the physical acoustic features of the music that led to a reduction in LEDs. He adds that these acoustic features could have a different impact on the sexes.
Applications of the study
Researchers suggest that more studies should look into the phenomenon. The results could be monumental for epileptic patients who could be prescribed some individualised music as therapy to control their seizures. Music could be used as a non-invasive therapy alongside other medications.
Music might also be used as therapy for other neuropsychiatric diseases. For instance, patients with dementia have been seen to regain their memory temporarily after listening to familiar music.