Music makes anti-seizure medication more effective

CW: Testing on animals

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Well, spare a thought for the mice in this study who valiantly listened to Mozart’s K. 448 for 12 hours a day for weeks on end, to examine whether it had any effect on seizure activity and medication. Spoiler alert: it did! Initially, the mice listened to this music for 12 hours a day, and when positive effects on seizure activity were noted, the researchers examined listening for only 2 or 6 hours a day, only to discover that the shorter durations are insufficient! Too bad if you don’t like Mozart.

The researchers then began to break down which parts of this music are particularly effective, and after two more weeks of 12-hours-per-day listening on only isolated sections of the music, they discovered that it is more effective if the mice hear the entire work, because it was able to alter the alpha and gamma band power in the brain. They also ruled out other types of classical music.

Why did it work?

To paraphrase, they discovered that this Mozart piece powers-up an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

“Further EEG analysis showed that Gamma band power which is previously reported to be related with inhibitory GABAergic neural activities was increased in the RES group after listening to Mozart K.448. Based on this, it is highly possible that long-term Mozart K.448 induced long-term synaptic plasticity changes in auditory regions and then increased the hippocampal GABAergic neural activities through auditory circuits.”

So, how can we use this information in music therapy? Sure, you could start listening to Mozart for 12 hours a day, but really, this study is more broadly a step towards more non-pharmacological interventions like music therapy for epilepsy and other conditions with seizures.


And far be it for me to keep this music out of your head:


Long‐term music adjuvant therapy enhances the efficacy of sub‐dose antiepileptic drugs in temporal lobe epilepsy
Xu, C., Nao, J., Shen, Y., Gong, Y., Tan, B., Zhang, S., Shen, K., Sun, C., Wang, Y., & Chen, Z. (2022). Long‐term music adjuvant therapy enhances the efficacy of sub‐dose antiepileptic drugs in temporal lobe epilepsy. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics28(2), 206–217.

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