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Listening to Mozart has a beneficial effect on epilepsy

Presented by
Dr Gianluca Sesso, University of Pisa, Italy
ECNP 2020
Listening to Mozart’s music can reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy, according to a meta-analysis conducted by Dr Gianluca Sesso (University of Pisa, Italy) [1].

The hypothesis that listening to Mozart’s music may be beneficial for epileptic patients has been investigated in previous studies, yet whether the “Mozart Effect” exists is still controversial. This was the motivation for a meta-analysis in which 147 abstracts were collected, of which 12 articles were included [2]. The particular pieces of music assessed were Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major K448, Mozart’s piano sonata in C major K545, and a set of Mozart’s compositions.

Listening to Mozart, especially when daily, led to a significant reduction in epileptic seizures. Patients experienced a significant reduction versus baseline in seizure frequency during the treatment periods (31.17%; 95% CI 20.70-41.64), in interictal epileptiform discharge (IED) frequency during (28.21%) and after (20.12%) a single stimulation, and after a treatment period (79.29%) when patients listened to the K448 sonata. When the set of Mozart’s compositions was listened to, the reduction in seizure frequency was 66.17% (95% CI 38.99-93.36); there was a significant reduction in IED frequency during (35.51%) and after (37.78%) a single stimulation with K545 sonata.

These results demonstrated that music-based neurostimulation may improve the clinical outcome in epilepsy by reducing the frequency of seizures and IED. Therefore, it may be used as a complementary treatment in epilepsy. Asked about the choice for Mozart’s music, Dr Sesso said that it fulfils some psychological need. Nevertheless, the mechanisms behind the Mozart Effect are poorly understood. Other music may have similar effects, but it may be that Mozart’s sonatas have distinctive rhythmic structures that are particularly suited for epilepsy. This may involve several brain systems, but this would need to be proven.


  1. Sesso G, et al. Safe and sound: meta-analysing the Mozart effect on epilepsy. ECNP Congress 2020.
  2. Sesso G & Sicca F. Clin Neurophysiol 2020;131(7):1610-1620.

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