Epilepsy falls under the list of chronic neurological conditions marked by seizures. A new study has discovered that a type of music therapy, listening to Mozart, may reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.

Dr. Marjan Rafiee and Dr. Taufik Valiante of the Krembil Brain Institute at Toronto Western Hospital, part of University Health Network experimented with a daily dose of listening to Mozart, specifically 'Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448' in comparison to a remix which had similar mathematical features but shuffled enough to lack rhythmicity.

Dr. Rafiee said, "In the past 15 to 20 years, we have learned a lot about how listening to one of Mozart's compositions in individuals with epilepsy appears to demonstrate a reduction in seizure frequency," Yet the pair wanted to know if epileptic individuals would have the same reduced seizure frequency as a response to another auditory stimulus, a control piece, in comparison to Mozart's music.

13 participants were involved in a year-long study. After the first quarter of the year, 50% of the patients listened to Mozart's Sonata once a day then switched to the scrambled version for the following quarter. The rest of the patients began their first three months listening to the remix version, then switched to the original composition the following quarter.

Throughout the entire year, each patient had a 'seizure diary' as documentation of seizure frequencies. They also kept their daily medication of anti-seizure medications (ASMs) unchanged for the duration of the study,

The results showed that when they had daily music therapy with the first movement of Mozart K.448, it was directly 'associated with reducing seizure frequency in adult individuals with epilepsy," said Dr. Rafiee. 'This suggests that daily Mozart listening may be considered as a supplemental therapeutic option to reduce seizures in individuals with epilepsy."


Epilepsy, or seizure disorder, remains the fourth most common neurological disorder in the world, affecting as much as 65 million people. In the United States, 3.4 million people have epilepsy; 470,000 individuals being children. 33% of people living with epilepsy have uncontrollable seizures because there is so available treatment to help them.

Seizures are recurrent and unprovoked which could be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, yet the cause is usually unknown. Oftentimes, epileptics have various kinds of seizures complimented by other neurological symptoms. Those experiencing debilitating seizures are usually treated with at least one type of ASM and are even following a keto diet, which was specifically designed by Russel Wilder as a treatment for epilepsy in 1921.

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Therapy over Surgery

Dr. Valiante shared that 'as a surgeon, I have the pleasure of seeing individuals benefit from surgery, however, I also know well those individuals for whom surgery is not an option or those who have not benefitted from surgery, so, we are always looking for ways to improve symptom control, and improve quality of life for those with epilepsy," who is the Director of the Surgical Epilepsy Program at Krembil Brain Institute at UHN and co-Director of CRANIA.

'Like all research, ours raises a lot of questions that we are excited to continue to answer with further research and support from the epilepsy community.' With these promising results, the doctors plan to conduct the study on a larger scale over a longer period of time.

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