A new research conducted by Ohio State University (OSU) scientists has found that the brains of people suffering from epilepsy benefit more from listening to music than those of people who do not have the condition.

Experts believe this new finding could potentially lead to the development of new treatments that could prevent seizures from happening.

In a study presented at the 123rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA), researchers from OSU's Wexner Medical Center, led by neurology professor Dr. Christine Charyton, examined the effects of music, such as classical and jazz, to the brains of epilepsy patients in order to create a potential intervention to help them cope with their condition.

An estimated 80 percent of cases of epilepsy are considered to be temporal lobe epilepsy, which means that the patient's seizures seem to originate from the brain's temporal lobe.

Charyton and her team explained that they wanted to look into the possible effects of music on the brain of epilepsy patients since music is processed by the auditory complex located in the same region as the temporal lobe.

The researchers measured the ability of epilepsy patients to process music by attaching electrodes to their scalp and recording patterns of brainwaves in a process known as electroencephalogram. They then compared the results to those of people without epilepsy.

The team gathered data from 21 individuals included in the Wexner Medical Center's epilepsy monitoring unit from September 2012 to May 2014.

During the experiment, the participants were asked to listen to 10 minutes of silence followed by music track, including Andante Movement II (K448), My Favorite Things by John Coltrane and Sonata in D Major by Mozart. After the music, they were asked to listen to another 10 minutes of silence and then another one of the tracks. The session ended with the participants listening to another 10 minutes of silence.

The music tracks were played randomly, allowing some of the patients to listen to Sonata in D Major at the beginning of their session, while the others listened to My Favorite Things.

Charyton and her colleagues documented the brainwave patterns of each of the participants' brain throughout the duration of the experiment.

They observed high levels of activity in the brainwaves of the participants while they listened to the music tracks. More significantly, Charyton said that the brainwave activity of epilepsy patients were observed to synchronize with the playing of the music more in their temporal lobe compared to those without the condition.

"We were surprised by the findings," Charyton said.

"We hypothesized that music would be processed in the brain differently than silence. We did not know if this would be the same or different for people with epilepsy."

While the researchers note that music would not be able to substitute existing treatments for epilepsy, they theorize that it can still be used in the development of a novel intervention used together with traditional therapies in order to prevent the occurrence of epilepsy in patients.

Photo: Shaun Dunphy | Flickr 

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