Daily listening to Mozart reduces seizures in individuals with epilepsy: A randomized control study

Epilepsia Open. 2020 May 27;5(2):285-294. doi: 10.1002/epi4.12400. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Objective: Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders . Many individuals continue to have seizures despite medical and surgical treatments, suggesting adjunctive management strategies are required. Promising effects of daily listening to Mozart on reducing seizure frequency in individuals with epilepsy have been demonstrated over the last 20 years, but not in a rigorously controlled manner. In this study, we compared the effect on seizure frequency of daily listening to either Mozart K.448 or a spectrally similar, yet non-rhythmic control piece. We hypothesized that there would be no difference in seizure counts when participants listened to Mozart K.448 vs when they listened to the control piece.

Methods: We employed a randomized crossover design, in which each participant was exposed to both three months of daily listening to the first six minutes of Sonata for two pianos in D major by Mozart (Mozart K.448; treatment period) and three months of daily listening to phase-scrambled version (control period). There was a three-month baseline and a three-month follow-up period before and after the six-month listening period, respectively. Change in seizure counts obtained from the seizure diaries was considered as the main study outcome.

Results: Using three methodologies to investigate the existence of the treatment effect (paired t test, estimation statistics and plots, and Cohen's d), our results revealed a reduction in seizure counts during the treatment period, which was not observed for the control period (P-value < .001).

Significance: Using a spectrally similar control piece, our study advances previous reports that were limited by a "no music" control condition. Daily listening to Mozart K.448 was associated with reducing seizure frequency in adult individuals with epilepsy. These results suggest that daily Mozart listening may be considered as an adjunctive therapeutic option to reduce seizure burden in individuals with epilepsy.

Keywords: adjunctive therapies; epilepsy; music; neuromodulation; seizure reduction.