There is a theory that listening to a particular piece of music, written by Mozart, may improve how well the brain works This may be a helpful treatment for some people with a neurological condition, including epilepsy. This theory has been called the Mozart Effect. The piece of music that is thought to help is Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D Major, K448 (also known as Mozart K448).
The term Mozart effect was first used in 1993, by a group of researchers. They studied what happened to a group of students, after they had listened to Mozart K448 for 10 minutes. The researchers noticed that for about 10 to 15 minutes after listening to the music, they had better ‘spatial-reasoning skills’. This means they performed better in certain tasks they were given, which included paper cutting and folding.
Since then, various researchers and doctors have carried out studies to look at how listening to Mozart K448 may have an effect on people with epilepsy. Below is information about three of these studies.
1. An electroencephalogram (EEG) test measures the electrical patterns in a person’s brain, and it can show if there is any epileptiform activity. Epileptiform activity means that the person has certain electrical patterns in their brain that indicate they are at risk of having seizures.
In 1998, researchers asked 29 people with epilepsy to listen to Mozart K448 while having an EEG test. The people who were chosen had shown lots of epileptiform activity in part or all of their brain during previous EEG tests. For 23 people who took this test, the EEG test showed less epileptiform activity in their brain while they were listening to the music.
Epilepsy Action has more information about EEG tests.
2. In Taiwan in 2011, 58 children with focal epilepsy listened to eight minutes of Mozart K448, once a day. They then had EEG tests after one, two and six months. For 47 of the children, each EEG test showed a further decrease in epileptiform activity.
Epilepsy Action has more information about focal epilepsy.
3. Also in Taiwan in 2011, 11 children with refractory (difficult to control) epilepsy were studied. Most of the children had learning difficulties. The number of seizures they had in six months were counted. After this, they listened to Mozart K448, once a day before bed time, for six months. During this time, their seizures were counted again. Of the 11 children, eight became seizure free, or had a high reduction in their seizures, in the months they listened to the music.
In summary, there have been a few, small studies carried out, looking at the effects of listening to Mozart’s music for people with epilepsy. The studies have focused on Mozart’s music, rather than music by other composers. Some people believe that the results look promising and that listening to Mozart should be considered as an extra treatment for some people with epilepsy. However, other people believe that there is still not enough evidence, understanding or proof to show that this could be helpful.
To find out if the Mozart effect really could benefit more people with epilepsy, more research is needed. This could involve larger numbers of people.
If you wish to buy Mozart K448, the link below will take you to the relevant page on Amazon.co.uk. Buying through this link will raise money for Epilepsy Action at no extra cost to yourself.
By giving you this link, we are not suggesting that the Mozart Effect will work for you.
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Epilepsy Action would like to thank Dr Melissa Maguire, Department of Neurology, Leeds General Infirmary, UK for her contribution to this information.
Dr Melissa Maguire has no conflict of interest to declare.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated August 2012To be reviewed August 2015