July 10, 2021

Music in Epilepsy: Predicting the Effects of the Unpredictable

Abstract, published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder in the world. Despite medical and surgical treatment, many individuals continue to have seizures, suggesting adjunctive management strategies are required. Promising effects of daily listening to Mozart K.448 on reducing seizure frequency in individuals with epilepsy have been demonstrated. In our recent randomized control study, we reported the positive effect of daily listening to Mozart K.448 on reducing seizures compared to daily listening to a control piece with an identical power spectrum to the Mozart piece yet devoid of rhythmic structure. Despite the promising effect of listening to Mozart K.448 on reducing seizure in individuals with epilepsy, the mechanism(s) underlying such an effect is largely unknown. In this paper, we specifically review how auditory stimulation alters brain dynamics, in addition to computational approaches to define the structural features of classical music, to then propose a plausible mechanism for the underlying anti-convulsant effects of listening to Mozart K.448. We review the evidence demonstrating that some Mozart pieces in addition to compositions from other composers such as Joplin contain less predictable rhythmic structure in comparison with other composers such as Beethoven. We propose through both entrainment and 1/f resonance mechanisms that listening to musical pieces containing the least predictable rhythmic structure, might reduce the self similarity of brain activity which in turn modulates low frequency power, situating the brain in a more “noise like” state and away from brain dynamics that can lead to seizures.

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