How 30 seconds of Mozart can help epilepsy sufferers

Researchers tested the impact of music from Frederic Chopin to Judas Priest on 16 volunteers

Listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major for at least 30 seconds may reduce the electrical activity in the brain that contributes to epileptic fits, a study published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports shows.

Researchers played different music clips for 16 people with medication-resistant epilepsy and found that the piece by Mozart significantly reduced the frequency of spikes in brain activity linked to the condition.

Scientists had discovered the potential medical impact of the piece about 30 years ago but still do not know why it does not work for other works or composers. Earlier studies had tried a string version of the sonata and Beethoven’s Fur Elise without achieving the same results.

The results have only been observed when one other composition was used - Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Major.

The latest study involved researchers playing music clips of either 15 or 90 seconds, including Jugulator by heavy metal band Judas Priest, Peggy Sue by the 1950s singer Buddy Holly and other classical works by Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt.

They found that playing the Mozart sonata for between 30 and 90 seconds led to a two-thirds reduction of spikes in brain activity. The reductions were found to be greatest in the brain’s left and right frontal cortices, the parts of the brain that are involved in regulating emotional responses.

Epilepsy affects 1 per cent of the global population. A third of those with the condition are resistant to medication, which was the variant examined by researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine in the US.

Updated: September 16th 2021, 3:06 PM