Music is now widely used as a mode of treatment in the paradigms of psychological and cognitive treatment. It can cause changes in the brain and hence, the psychological status of an individual. Music therapy has risen an accepted method of medically prescribed treatment.
Music is being tried as a means to reduce episodes of epilepsy as well – it has been widely accepted that certain kinds of music can help in reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures. It is where the late Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, surprisingly comes to the rescue.
Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, K. 448, composed when he was 25, is a composition that can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures, if heard for long periods on a daily basis — a study published in Epilepsia Open found. Another interesting aspect that emerged from the study is that a scrambled version of Mozart’s original composition, which bore the same mathematical pattern but lacked a similar rhythm, did not cause any significant reduction in the frequency of seizures.
That the composition helps reduce epileptic seizures, is a new-found field of research which is only over a decade old. A plethora of studies have shed light on the effect of listening to Mozart’s composition during an epileptic seizure. What the new study establishes is that it is the original version that has the most profound effect.
Marjan Rafiee, a co-author of the study, from the Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto, Canada, reportedly explained the discovery. “In the past 15 to 20 years, we have learned a lot about how listening to one of Mozart's compositions in individuals with epilepsy appears to demonstrate a reduction in seizure frequency. But, one of the questions that still needed to be answered was whether individuals would show a similar reduction in seizure frequency by listening to another auditory stimulus – a control piece – as compared to Mozart," he said.
The researchers recruited patients for this year-long study. In the initial phase, half of the patients listened to the Sonata once, daily, for a period of three months. In the second phase, they were made to listen to the scrambled version for another three months. In the final phase, half of the patients first listened to the scrambled version for three months, and then switched to the original for the subsequent three months.
The patients’ daily seizure record was monitored for the entire period of the study while their daily medication was unchanged.
“Our results showed daily listening to the first movement of Mozart K.448 was associated with reducing seizure frequency in adult individuals with epilepsy," says Dr. Rafiee. "This suggests that daily Mozart listening may be considered as a supplemental therapeutic option to reduce seizures in individuals with epilepsy,” Rafiee reportedly remarked.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder and affects people worldwide. While there is widely available medications for this disease, over 30% of patients do not find it effective. In these cases, the Mozart’s Sonata music therapy could be an effective supplementary method of treatment.