Researchers at Kaohsiung Medical University and other centers in Taiwan studied the long-term effect of listening to Mozart K. 448 (Sonata for Two Pianos in D major) on the frequency of epileptiform discharges in the electro-encephalogram (EEG) of children with epilepsy. They analyzed the relationship between the number of epileptiform discharges and foci of origin, epilepsy etiology, age, IQ, and gender. Eighteen children (10 girls; mean age, 7 years 10 months; age range, 7 months to 14 years 4 months) with epilepsy and persistent epileptiform discharges for at least six months were enrolled. All children had seizures well controlled with anticonvulsant drugs. Seizures were focal in 16 (88.9%) and generalized in 2; the etiology was idiopathic in 10 and symptomatic in 8. None had musicogenic epilepsy.
Patients listened to Mozart K. 448 for eight minutes before bedtime for six months. At one, two, and six months, epileptiform discharges significantly decreased by 53.2%, 64.4%, and 71.6%, respectively (P<.001). All patients except those with occipital discharges showed a decrease in epileptiform discharges. At six months, the average decreases in epileptiform discharges at frontal, central, and temporal locations were 100%, 99.1%, and 96.6%, respectively, compared to 3.7% for occipital foci. Generalized discharges showed a 97.2% decrease. Patients with normal intelligence and idiopathic epilepsy had greater decreases in number of epileptiform discharges than those with mental retardation and symptomatic epilepsy. Age and gender had no relation to the Mozart effect on the epileptiform EEG. The authors conclude that long-term listening to this Mozart sonata may decrease epileptiform discharges.
Dr Millichap has disclosed no financial relationship relevant to this commentary. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
The “Mozart effect” was first observed in college students who showed enhancement of visual-spatial-temporal reasoning during and after listening to 10 minutes of the Mozart sonata tape.1 Relaxation tapes and minimalist music had no effect. These investigators also reported long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning during piano keyboard lessons, but not computer lessons. In support of a specific brain-localized effect of music, the EEG in subjects listening to Mozart piano sonata K. 448 showed enhanced synchrony and power of rhythms of the right temporal and left temporoparietal areas of the brain.2,3
A more impressive demonstration of the Mozart effect was reported in patients with epilepsy. In 23 of 29 patients with focal discharges or generalized spike and wave complexes, a significant decrease in epileptiform activity in the EEG occurred while listening to Mozart.4 One explanation of the effect in epilepsy patients postulates resonance of the cerebral cortex with the architecture of Mozart’s piano music.4 Music with a high degree of long-term periodicity may resonate within the...