Medical Mysteries of Music

This piece of music could be the “anti-epilepsy” genre scientists have been looking for.

The brain is a mysterious gooey thing. Taken out of the skull and laid on a table, the thing just falls apart unless it’s stabilized with special chemicals. But this 1.5-kilogram mass is the seat of so many wondrous and occasionally difficult things.

Take epilepsy, for example. For some people, the brain’s electrical activity goes all wonky, resulting in seizures. Often the cause is unknown. Treatment can be tricky, too. Scientists have long been looking for non-invasive ways of treating epilepsy and some of that research has looked at the effects of music. And now, they may have found an “anti-epilepsy” genre.

Sixteen epilepsy patients who didn’t respond to drug treatments were played this piece of music: Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K448.

The piece has long been known to have an effect on cognition and brain activity for some reason. As a result of this study, it was found to also calm the abnormal electrical activity in the brain of these patients. Why? Apparently, it has something to do with the melodic surprises in the composition. This somehow engages the brain in a special way that keeps epileptic seizures at bay.

The hope is that by studying this bit of Mozart an “anti-epilepsy” genre of music can be found. More information on the studies here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38443 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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