Music in Epilepsy

(Version Date: 31/01/2022)


Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder. The medical management generally involves prescribing one or several anti-seizure medications (ASMs). Unfortunately, some people are unable to obtain seizure freedom or adequate control from ASMs, or other common treatment options such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and ketogenic diet for any number of reasons. For this group of individuals, there are a number of alternative treatment options available, including a novel approach called “music therapy” which has received significant attention during the last decade. We are running a clinical research study entitled “Music in Epilepsy Treatment: Does Unpredictability of Rhythmic Structure in Music Reduce Seizure Frequency?” at the Toronto Western Hospital and Krembil Brain Institute, aiming to understand the possible effects of listening to musical pieces with different rhythmic structure on reducing number of seizures following the promising existing evidence. Our long-term goal is to understand how to use music therapy as an effective option in reducing seizure frequency.

This is a one year long research study for individuals with epilepsy who are not receiving adequate control of their seizures despite using a number of ASMs. In this study, we will ask participants to listen to two different musical pieces once a day, during a six month period while documenting their seizure frequency in a seizure diary. There is no need for you to come to the hospital during this one-year intervention, all the communication will happen via mail, phone, and email.

In order to evaluate your eligibility to participate in this study, the Eligibility Check-list, provided at the end of this form, needs to be checked by your referring physician (i.e. family doctor, neurologist). If your referring physician confirms you match all the criteria below, you can contact the study coordinator, Dr. Marjan Rafiee at or leave a voice mail at (416) 603-5460 to Dr. Valiante’s office, in order to ask for more information about the study and to receive a study consent form. The contact information provided in the email or voice mail will be used by the study coordinator to provide you more information about the study. You will then need to provide your mailing address or email address to the study coordinator in order to receive the consent form.   


NOTE: The referring physician will be contacted by the study coordinator to obtain confirmation on matching the eligibility criteria

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Diagnosis of epilepsy
  • No proper control on seizure frequencies despite the use of a number of anti-seizure medication.
  • No history of previous brain resection surgery (i.e. epilepsy surgery) following the removal of any brain structure
  • Having at least three seizures during three months of baseline period
  • No evidence of existing pseudo-seizures in the individual
  • No current plan for changing individual’s anti-seizure medications during the next one year
  • No use of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) currently, and no current plan on using one during the next one year
  • No use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) currently, and no current plan on using it during the next one year
  • Not on the ketogenic diet currently and no current plan on using one during the next one year
  • The individual is able to re-call having a seizure afterwards, in addition to being able to document this in a seizure diary during the one-year intervention.
  • The individual is capable of understanding and speaking in English.
  • No history of intellectual disability and developmental delay.
  • No history of musicogenic epilepsy, which is experiencing seizures by listening to some specific musical pieces in the past.

Learn more about our previous study : The Rhyme & Rhythm of Music in Epilepsy