Scientists now know why a Mozart melody reduces epileptic seizures

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Mozart’s piano sonata, called D major K448, has cognitive benefits and even reduces seizures in people with epilepsy. Scientists may have finally figured out the reason for its well-known therapeutic effect.

The mystery of K448 lies in its ability to spark anticipation. Longer piano phrases fuel a desire to listen more, which peaks as expected, “creating a positive emotional response,” according to a new study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday, according to a new study published in Scientific reports Thursday.

The medical utility of Mozart’s composition came to be understood as the “Mozart effect”. That is, listening to Mozart’s music may temporarily increase spatial reasoning skills (such as puzzles or that particular section of IQ tests regarding visualization of objects) and have positive effects on people. people with epilepsy. So far only one other piece of music (Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major) is known to have a similar therapeutic effect.

Epilepsy causes repeated seizures, ranging from mild to severe. There are 10 million people with epilepsy in India alone, according to the data. The treatment gap is twofold: Many people do not receive proper treatment, but around a third of people with epilepsy are considered drug resistant. Finding non-invasive treatments that do not rely on drugs is therefore crucial for treatment.

There is a complex relationship between music and epilepsy. When a person has a seizure, a neuronal discharge in the form of interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) is released. Think of these IEDs as biological markers of the frequency of seizures and cognitive impairment. Therefore, previous research on the effect of K448 has focused on studying the release of IED in patients; the first discovery dates back to 1993, when researchers found that 10 minutes of listening to Mozart did more for patients with epilepsy than listening to relaxing words designed to lower blood pressure.

In the current study, the researchers looked at a small group of patients with epilepsy. They found that IEDs decreased after 30 seconds of listening to K448; the most significant effect was recorded in the part of the brain associated with the identification of emotions.

Explaining the reasons why Mozart’s melodies can help research other avenues of non-invasive treatment. “Our ultimate dream is to define an ‘anti-epileptic musical genre and to use music to improve the lives of people with epilepsy,” wrote Robert Quon of Dartmouth College, co-author of the study.


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Another research earlier this year found that 84% of patients experienced a reduction in IEDs while listening to Mozart. “An increased number of [IEDs] are correlated with memory loss or reduced cognitive performance, and even an increased frequency of seizures. Therapies that maybe can reduce these spikes could have proven benefits for patients with epilepsy, ”Quon told Stat News, explaining how models exposed because of music could be researched. more in-depth.

Interestingly, the patients in the present study showed no change in brain activity when exposed to other pieces of music. Let’s say that listening for 90 seconds to the German composer Richard Wagner had no calming effect. Mozart’s music also scored much higher in its anti-epileptic effect compared to composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt, all champions of classical music. In one case, listening to the music of Joseph Haydn resulted in an increase in IEDs.

With this current study, the researchers extrapolate what makes K448 effective. The piano sonata creates a recognizable melody of higher repetition, “organized by contrasting melodic themes, each with its own underlying harmony”. The familiar structure of the song proved to be calming.

The Mozart effect is only one component of the role of music therapy in the treatment of mental disorders, mood disorders and depressive symptoms. Musical interventions have so far linked positive results for people with multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, and acquired brain dysfunctions.

History has shown the ability of music to entertain and heal. The revival of the Mozart effect could be the start.


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