How does music affect persons with epilepsy?
In some cases it can alleviate symptoms, whereas in others it can make matters worse.
Music and epilepsy
Epilepsy that’s triggered by musical stimulation is known as musicogenic epilepsy. This form of epilepsy was first noted by British Neurologist Macdonald Critchely in 1937.
Musicogenic epilepsy can be described as a form of reflex epilepsy (epilepsy that is triggered by a stimulus). Seizures are induced by exposure to a certain type of music. The musical trigger is different for everyone. For some, it may be a specific song, whereas others are triggered by a pitch or instrument.
According to a study of the disorder, a response can be linked to emotional or cognitive appreciation of the stimulus. Simply thinking or dreaming about the stimulation can also lead to an epileptic episode.
Musicogenic epilepsy is a form of reflex epilepsy, is characterized by the triggering of epileptic seizures by specific music experiences. Individuals with musicogenic epilepsy differ in the music trigger, but may have similar seizures. Typically, these seizures are focal dyscognitive and have a temporal-lobe origin with a limbic system distribution. As such, the music trigger is likely related to either an emotional or memory aspect of music perception. Investigations into musicogenic epilepsy may lead to a better understanding of seizure propagation within the brain and of neurologic aspects of the music experience. Successful treatment of medication-resistant musicogenic epilepsy has been achieved with anterior temporal-lobe resection.