A new study has found that music may help those suffering from epileptic seizures. Health experts say that their brains react differently to music and they are hoping to use the data in order to develop new, more efficient treatments and therapies.
PhD Christine Charyton, visiting assistant professor in the department of neurology at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, gave a statement saying that “We believe that music could potentially be used as an intervention to help people with epilepsy […] It could be helpful as a new treatment or therapy or prevention one day”.
She went on to add that she firmly believes music may actually help offer some new hope to people with epileptic seizures.
What’s even more remarkable is that this is not even the first the medical community has informed that music has hidden healing powers. Previous studies have shown that music can awaken emotions in patients suffering from dementia, it can help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease remember memories, and when it comes to the brains of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, music can trigger dopamine surges.
But how does music help with epilepsy? Professor Charyton explained that 80 percent (80%) of all epileptic seizures take place in the temporal lobe, the same region where the auditory cortex is located and the brain process music. The two are linked, so when doctors played classical piano or jazz to patients with the cerebral seizure disorder, they noticed that the electrical impulses inside their brains would become altered and the patients would start to calm down.
Professor Charyton also shared that she got interested in researching the effects that music may have on the brains of patients with epilepsy after reading this exact statistic.
It’s important to know that seizures are usually caused by stress (not getting enough sleep, drinking too much alcohol, small yet challenging moments in everyday life), whereas music is known to help people unwind whether they suffer from epileptic seizures or not. It can help patients stay a little calmer and regain some control over their bodies. They may even become more mindful.
For their study, Professor Charyton and her team needed to understand how music affects the temporal lobe of patients suffering from epileptic seizures, and how it affects the temporal lobe of healthy brains.
The research team looked at data collected from 21 people over the course of two (2) years. Six (6) of them were epilepsy in-patients from the Wexner Medical Center, five (5) of them were patients with non-epileptic seizures, and the other nine (9) were healthy people who acted as a control group.
Professor Charyton had subjects lay on the bead, put on a pair of headphones and listen to ten (10) minutes of silence, followed by (10) minutes of music. The main songs that she used were Mozart’s Sonata in D Major, John Coltrane’s cover of My Favourite Things, and Andante Movement 11.
Their brainwave pattern were recorded by a technician, and when Professor Charyton looked at them, she noticed that music increased impulses across the brains of healthy people as well as those of patients who sometimes had seizures but did not suffer from epilepsy.
But when she looked at the brainwave patterns of patients suffering from epileptic seizures, she noticed that they were more relaxed, happier, and the electrical activity inside their temporal lobes synchronized with the song that they were listening to and stayed that way until the music stopped.
She said the process is like “two metronomes locked together and ticking in unison”, the very thing that happens in the brains of healthy, skilled musicians when they listen to a song.
The research was presented at the end of last week, on Sunday (Augurs 9, 2015), at the 123rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (Toronto).
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