People with epilepsy may process music differently than people without the neurological condition, an insight that might eventually provide new treatment options for people who experience frequent seizures.
The finding was the result of a study presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd convention. Epilepsy—the fourth most common neurological condition—affects about 150,000 Americans each year, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. The most common form of epilepsy originates in the temporal lobe—a part of the brain that helps process sensory input, emotions, language, and visual memories.
Different Brain Reactions to Music
Researchers recruited 21 participants with epilepsy. Each participant had sought treatment at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s epilepsy monitoring unit between September 2012 and May 2014.
All participants had much higher levels of brainwave activity when listening to music, but people with epilepsy were more likely to have brain activity that synchronized with the music, particularly in the temporal lobe. Music is processed in the auditory cortex, which inhabits the same region of the brain.
What Findings Could Mean for Future Treatment
Researchers are not yet sure why the brains of people with epilepsy tend to synchronize with music. However, because 80% of epilepsy cases originate in the temporal lobe, understanding the temporal lobe’s reaction to music might eventually help researchers better understand epilepsy.
The research team says it is unlikely that music would replace conventional epilepsy treatments, but it could eventually work in conjunction with traditional treatments to prevent seizures.
- Can music help people with epilepsy? (2015, August 9). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150809092837.htm
- Music and the brain: Can music help people with epilepsy? (2015, August). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/music-epilepsy.aspx
- Shafer, P.O., RN, MN. (2013, October). Epilepsy statistics. Retrieved from http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-statistics
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