Mozart effect in epilepsy: Why is Mozart better than Haydn? Acoustic qualities-based analysis of SEEG

Štillová K, Kiska T, Koriťáková E, Strýček O, Mekyska J, Chrastina J, Rektor I.

Eur J Neurol. 2021 Feb 1. doi:10.1111/ene.14758. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33527581.

5 Feb 2021

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Background: We aimed to confirm the "Mozart effect" in epileptic patients using the intracerebral EEG recordings and the hypothesis that the reduction of epileptiform discharges (ED) can be explained by the music's acoustic properties.

Methods: Eighteen epilepsy surgery candidates were implanted with depth electrodes in the temporal medial and lateral cortex. Patients listened to the first movement of Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos K. 448 and to the first movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 94. Musical features from each composition with respect to rhythm, melody, and harmony were analysed.

Results: ED in intracerebral EEG were reduced by Mozart's music. Listening to Haydn's music led to reduced ED only in the women; in the men, the ED increased. The acoustic analysis revealed that non-dissonant music with a harmonic spectrum and decreasing tempo with significant high-frequency parts has a reducing effect on ED in men. To reduce ED in women, the music should additionally be, in terms of loudness, gradually less dynamic. Finally, we were able to demonstrate that these acoustic characteristics are more dominant in Mozart's music than in Haydn's music.

Conclusions: We confirmed the reduction of intracerebral ED while listening to classical music. An analysis of the musical features revealed that the acoustic characteristics of music are responsible for supressing brain epileptic activity. Based on our study we suggest to study the use of musical pieces with well-defined acoustic properties as an alternative non-invasive method to reduce epileptic activity in patients with epilepsy.

Keywords: Mozart effect; acoustic characteristics; classical music; epileptiform discharges.

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