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Epilepsy and music: practical notes
  1. M Maguire
  1. Correspondence to Dr M Maguire, Department of Neurology, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, LS1 3EX, UK; Maguirem{at}


Music processing occurs via a complex network of activity far beyond the auditory cortices. This network may become sensitised to music or may be recruited as part of a temporal lobe seizure, manifesting as either musicogenic epilepsy or ictal musical phenomena. The idea that sound waves may directly affect brain waves has led researchers to explore music as therapy for epilepsy. There is limited and low quality evidence of an antiepileptic effect with the Mozart Sonata K.448. We do not have a pathophysiological explanation for the apparent dichotomous effect of music on seizures. However, clinicians should consider musicality when treating patients with antiepileptic medication or preparing patients for epilepsy surgery. Carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine each may cause a reversible altered appreciation of pitch. Surgical cohort studies suggest that musical memory and perception may be affected, particularly following right temporal lobe surgery, and discussion of this risk should form part of presurgical counselling.

  • Music
  • Temporal lobe surgery

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Hannah Cock, London, UK.

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  • Editors' commentary
    Phil E M Smith Geraint N Fuller

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