Music in Epilepsy

Epilepsy is among the most common chronic neurological conditions. The medical management generally involves prescribing one or more anti-seizure medications (ASMs). During the last decades different treatment options have been provided for individuals with epilepsy and their caregiver, aiming to give a better control on their seizure frequency. However, some people are unable to obtain seizure freedom\adequate control from ASMs, or other treatment options such as resective epilepsy surgery, deep brain stimulation (DBS), Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and ketogenic diet for different reasons. Subsequently, there has been a growing interest on the potential effect of listening to music, on reducing seizure frequency among individuals with epilepsy in the recent years.

The promising effect of listening to Mozart’s compositions in individuals with epilepsy has been reported in the past 15-20 years, demonstrating a reduction in seizure frequency during the periods of daily listening to Mozart. Despite the promising results, one of the most important questions yet needed to be answered is whether individuals would show a similar reduction on their seizure frequency in case of daily listening to any other auditory stimulus as the control one comparing to Mozart.

In this clinical research study, we investigated for the first time the effect of daily listening to the first movement of the Mozart Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos or Mozart K. 448 (treatment piece) compared to a “scrambled” version of it made by ourselves; making sure it is “similar” to the Mozart piece mathematically, but with no musicality.

Having a crossover design, our research clinical study was the first randomized controlled study for adult individuals with epilepsy in which each individual served as their own control, eliminating the usual heterogeneity involved in studies having a parallel design. Looking at our promising results, we are currently working on finishing the publications out of this work.

Considering the role music plays in human lives, listening to music can be considered as a low cost treatment option to be used next to other common treatment options, with no need to travel to get the benefits from it.

In this work, we have been aiming to share the obtained data completely, to create transparency and to provide the people a general perspective about our study design and observations. We are currently planning to continue the research on the topic of music in epilepsy in here, using the structure we have built between individuals with epilepsy, the epilepsy clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital, and the Krembil Research institute. Our aim is to distribute knowledge and to create novel research studies through which we can create the opportunity for individuals with epilepsy to potential benefits from listening to music by their participation, in addition to providing us the chance to improve our understanding about the topic.