A novel study from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center investigates how music affects the brains of people with epilepsy. The majority of epilepsy cases are temporal lobe epilepsy, in which the seizures seem to originate in the brain’s temporal lobe. The researchers were curious about the connection between epilepsy and music because music is also processed in the temporal lobe, albeit in the auditory cortex. The study revealed that the brains of people with epilepsy tend to synchronize with music. The finding could open new avenues of intervention for epilepsy patients.
The researchers used electroencephalography, a method for recording brainwave patterns, to compare the musical processing abilities of people without epilepsy and 21 people with epilepsy. The participants listened to 10 minutes of silence, a song, 10 minutes of silence, a different song, and finally 10 more minutes of silence while the researchers recorded their brain activity. The songs were Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, adante movement and John Coltrane’s rendition of “My Favorite Things.” The order of the songs was randomized.
The participants exhibited higher levels of brainwave activity when listening to music. The participants with epilepsy had a unique type of brain activity: their brain waves tended to synchronize with the music, especially in the temporal lobe. The brain’s level of synchronicity was much more significant in the participants with epilepsy than in those without epilepsy.
It is possible that music could be as used as an intervention for people with epilepsy. Although music will probably not replace current therapies, it could be used in conjunction with traditional epilepsy treatments.
This research was presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention.
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