The potential mechanism of musicogenic epilepsy and future research avenues
2 Oct 2016
1 Mar 2017
27 Mar 2017
epilepsy, music, seizures, reflex, treatments, emotion
Musicogenic epilepsy is a rare form of reflex epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by certain pieces of music. Musical processing involves interpretation of perceptual elements such as tempo and pitch, and also emotional associations and memory formation. It is hypothesized that the emotional impact of music is more likely to precipitate musicogenic seizures through involvement of the mesolimbic system. This may link these seizures to other types of reflex seizures that also involve emotional responses. Current treatment is restricted to anti-epileptic drugs and surgery, which is not always an option for patients due to eligibility or availability, for example in developing countries. The scientific literature on this topic is very limited. Individual case studies have stated that patients report techniques they use to stop seizures such as distraction, but these have not been explored. Online forums seem to suggest the condition is more common than the scientific literature states, and so may be a useful resource to consider. After describing the normal processing of music and how this pathway may be affected in musicogenic epilepsy, the review discusses the potential relationship between musicogenic and other seizures, and why this is relevant. New avenues for research into alternative interventions for patients could be opened by considering information on forums and case reports, and methods of doing this are discussed.