According to a Thursday study, Mozart sonatas can be used to calm epileptic brain activity.
Research on 16 epilepsy patients who did not respond to medication led to the hope that music could be used as a non-invasive treatment.
Robert Quon, a Dartmouth College student who co-authored the Scientific Reports study, said that "our ultimate dream is to create an anti-epileptic music genre and use music for improving the lives of people with epilepsy."
Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos, D Major K448 is well-known for its effect on cognition. However, researchers still have to figure out why.
Scientists played the part of patients with brain implant sensors in this study to monitor the occurrence IEDs, which are brief but severe brain events that epileptics experience between seizures.
The researchers found that IEDs decrease after listening for 30 seconds, and there are significant effects on parts of the brain related to emotion.
They found that the effect of longer musical phrases, which last 10 seconds or more, had a greater impact on the work's structure.
Quon states that the results suggest that longer phrases can create an anticipation and then respond in an unexpected manner, "creating positive emotions response".
Since 1993, scientists have been studying the so-called "Mozart effect". It is a phenomenon that has been under investigation since K448 was listened to for 10 minutes by people. This result was claimed to be due to improved spatial reasoning skills.
Further research has shown that K448 has a variety of brain functions and disorders. This includes epilepsy.
The authors stated that this is the first time they have made observations based upon the song's structure. They described it as being "organized by contrasting melodyc themes, each with their own underlying harmony".
Similar to previous studies, no brain activity was altered in patients exposed to auditory stimuli other than K448 or music pieces that were not their favorite musical genres.
Patients listened to 90 seconds worth of Wagner music. The harmonies changed but there was no melody.
Wagner listening did not have a calming effect. Researchers decided to focus on K448's melody.
Further testing of the sonata could be done using carefully selected pieces of music to help pinpoint its therapeutic components.