Mozart and Epilepsy

The Mozart Effect

A piece of music by the late composer Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-91) for two pianos Sonata K448, has been suggested by researchers from the Czech Republic, to have an anti-epileptic effect on the brain that may be a helpful treatment towards reducing the likelihood of an epileptic seizure.


According to a new study, conducted by the Hospital St Anne and CEITEC Masaryk University, listening to Mozart K448 piano Sonata helps to decrease the epileptic form discharge (EDs) that are the electrical brain waves related to epilepsy which may lead to seizures.

 

Nick Mulryan playing the piano

The Science

The scientists researched two popular pieces of classical music, comparing Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809) Symphony No. 94 and Mozart’s K448 piano Sonata, to see if they had an overall effect on brain activity and on epilepsy. The findings suggest listening to Mozart’s K448 piano Sonata can reduce (EDs) by 32%, whereas Haydn's Symphony No.94 led to a 45% increase of (EDs). Interestingly, when the study compared both male and female results, the study suggests that Haydn’s Symphony No.94 subdued the epileptic form discharge only in women but in men there was an increase of epileptic discharge.


How it Works

The researchers still don’t fully understand how this works but suggest that the ‘physical acoustic’ characteristics in Mozart’s composition may contribute to the effect in brain oscillation or brain waves that are accountable for reducing EDs.

 

Summary

Although these findings are significantly promising, further studies are required in well-defined music that has similar qualities and characteristics to Mozart’s composition K448. The effects of listening to music on epilepsy are still not clear as the effect of dopamine that is naturally discharged by the body’s inner reward system is difficult to quantify. Furthermore, it is estimated that epilepsy affects 6 million Europeans, and 15 million Europeans may have one seizure during their lifetime, therefore, listening to Mozart K448 can be a non-invasive therapeutic way to help towards reducing epileptic brain activity in conjunction with conventional medicine.

 

Recommended Recordings:

Murray Perahia & Radu Lupu (piano)
Catalogue No:88697858112
Label: Sony (2011)
Series Originals

 

Martha Agerich & Daniel Barenboim (piano)
Catalogue No:4793922
Label: DG (2014)


References:

  1. K Stillova et al. Mozart effect in epilepsy: Why is Mozart better than Haydn? Acoustic quality-based analysis of stereo electroencephalography.

  2. World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/epilepsy/euro_report.pdf

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