Music in Epilepsy

Overview

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.

The promising effect of listening to music 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 K.448.

 

What did we do to in our last work?

In our last clinical study (2016-2019), we aimed to provide a clear answer on whether listening daily to Mozart K.448 could help individuals with epilepsy to reduce their seizure counts, and to build a meaningful collaboration among individuals with epilepsy and our research team.

In our last work, we reported for the first time the effect of daily listening to Mozart K.448 on seizure frequency as compared to a carefully selected control piece. Our control piece was a scrambled version of the original Mozart piece, having a similar mathematical features as the original piece. However, this piece was shuffled randomly and lacked rhythmicity completely, sounding like noise. Using a spectrally similar control piece, our study advanced previous reports that were limited by a “no music” control condition. Our manuscript has been published in Epilepsia Open (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/epi4.12400).

 

How did we achieve this?

Using randomized controlled crossover design, our participants were randomly assigned to either start the intervention by listening to Mozart K.448 as the treatment piece or the scrambled Mozart K.448 as the control piece once a day for six months. Additionally, there were three-month baseline, and three-month follow-up periods before and after the six-month listening period. Seizure diaries were collected from the participants as the main outcome of the study. The medications kept unchanged for the participants during the one year intervention.

 

What did we find?

Employing three methodologies to investigate the existence of the treatment effect, our results revealed a reduction in seizure counts during the period of daily listening to Mozart K.448, which was not observed for the scrambled Mozart during the control period (p-value < 0.001).

Our results showed daily listening to Mozart K.448 was associated with reducing seizure frequency in adult individuals with epilepsy.

 

What are our potential future steps?

We are currently planning our next research work on the topic of music in epilepsy, in partnership with Epilepsy Ontario. We are proposing a novel hypothesis focusing on the effect of some of the structural features of the musical pieces from different composers on reducing seizures in individuals with epilepsy. We are aiming 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.

 

For more information, please refer to our publication:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/epi4.12400