Mozart Sonata Help Relieve Epilepsy, Researchers Find


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Mozart is an 18th-century Austrian classical composer, perhaps even the most famous composer of all time. Child prodigy, he stunned musical circles; and as a young man he created stimulating works which are still played by orchestras today. Although he died quite young at only 35, Mozart’s work has remained culturally and academically influential in the centuries since his death. Now, it seems that Mozart’s work has medical relevance as well. A recent article in Scientific reports announces that one of Mozart’s pieces, the Sonata for two pianos in D major K448 (known as Mozart K448) —Has the effect of calming the brains of people with epilepsy, by reducing certain harmful brain “events”.

Mozart wrote Mozart K448 at age 25 in 1781. The piece contains three movements: allegro con spirito, andante and molto allegro. The piece presents contrasting melodies and a unifying harmonic nuance. It is perhaps precisely this combination of melody and harmony that inspires the Mozart effect. A scientific study in the early 1990s found that listening to Mozart K448 improved spatial reasoning, at least temporarily.

To study the impact of Mozart K448 on the brains of people with epilepsy, the researchers played the tune while monitoring the brain implant sensors in the subjects. Implant sensors detect events known as interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs). These brain events are a symptom of epilepsy and are harmful to the brain. The team found that after 30 seconds of listening to the sonata, subjects experienced significantly less IED. It also affected the area of ​​the brain that handles our emotions. The team further discovered that the transitions between musical phases lead to greater effects, perhaps due to the creation of anticipation that culminates in the pleasant nature of an offbeat tune.

The topics also listed a minute and a half of compositions by Wagner, another famous composer. The effect seen from Mozart’s music was absent with that of Wagner. This suggested to researchers that something melodic about Mozart triggered the reduction in IEDs. The researchers hope that Mozart’s sonata will be studied further as a potential therapeutic remedy for epilepsy. Why Mozart’s work is special, however, remains a bit of a mystery. Another recent article suggests that what “calms” the epileptic brain varies somewhat by gender. Certainly, Mozart’s field as therapy looks promising.

Researchers have found that Mozart Sonata for two pianos in D major K448 calms the brain and reduces symptoms of epilepsy.

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