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Prof John Jenkins & Charles Shaar Murray
"Mozart even helps people in a coma"
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Monday, 2 April, 2001, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Mozart 'can cut epilepsy'
Brain scan
Epileptic seizures happen in small areas of the brain
Music, particularly Mozart, could have a therapeutic effect on epilepsy, say scientists.

Short bursts of Mozart's Sonata K448 have been found to decrease epileptic attacks.

Listening to Mozart could just hold some hope in the treatment of epilepsy

Professor John Jenkins, University of London
There are now calls for more research to be done to see whether other music has such a positive effect on the brain.

Professor John Jenkins, who has reviewed the international research on music therapy, said it was very probable that work by other musicians could also trigger the "Mozart Effect." He told the BBC that Mozart and also Bach have similar structures.

Patients who had been exposed to 10 minutes of the music were then tested and just 10 minutes exposure improved their spatial skills, such as paper cutting and folding.

Studies on rats showed that those that had listened to the K448 sonata were able to negotiate a maze faster than those that had been played minimalist music or left in silence.

Spatial tests

In other tests, children who were taught a keyboard instrument for six months, learning simple melodies, including Mozart, did better on tests than children who had spent their time working with computers.

Although other scientists were unable to reproduce these results, Professor Jenkins, of the University of London, said he believed they had merit and that the positive effects on epilepsy were particularly encouraging.

He said: "There is enough in it to justify further work being done. I thought there was enough in it to justify longer term exposure.

"Listening to Mozart could just hold some hope in the treatment of epilepsy."

Scans have shown that the human brain uses a wide distribution of areas to listen to music.

Further research

The left side of the brain tends to process rhythm and pitch and the right looks after timbre and melody.

Professor Jenkins said that listening to music would prime the relevant areas of the brain.

But he stressed that for the music therapy to be of any real use for epileptics, there would need to be much more research on the "Mozart Effect".

The Performing Right Society (PRS) has launched its own study into the powerful and often hidden effects of music - The Power of Music.

Andrew Potter, chair of the PRS, said: "There has always been anecdotal evidence of other benefits deriving from music and here is a study which brings that evidence together from its original authoritative sources to help music organisations of all kinds provide cogent answers."

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