© The Telegraph, UK
Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Listening to Mozart seems to protect against epileptic fits.
Listening to jazz or Mozart might stop epileptics having seizures, new research has suggested.

Epileptics react differently to music than those who do not have the disorder, new research found.

Scans show brainwaves of those with the disorder appear to synchronise with music by Mozart or John Coltrane but not with silence such as American experimental composer John Cage's piece 4'33" or "Four minutes, thirty-three seconds."

Assistant professor of neurology Dr Christine Charyton said: "We believe that music could potentially be used as an intervention to help people with epilepsy.

"We were surprised by the findings. We hypothesised that music would be processed in the brain differently than silence."

"We did not know if this would be the same or different for people with epilepsy."

While music would not replace current epilepsy therapy, the research suggested music might be a novel intervention used in conjunction with traditional treatment to help prevent seizures in people with epilepsy.

Around four fifths of epilepsy cases are what is known as temporal lobe epilepsy, in which the seizures appear to originate in the temporal lobe of the brain.

© The Telegraph, UK
John Coltrane could help prevent epileptic seizures.
Music is processed in the auditory cortex in this same region of the brain.

It compared the musical processing abilities of the brains of people with and without epilepsy using an electroencephalogram, where electrodes are attached to the scalp to detect and record brainwave patterns.

Results were collected from 21 patients who were in the epilepsy monitoring unit at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center between September 2012 and May 2014.

The researchers recorded brainwave patterns while patients listened to 10 minutes of silence, followed by either Mozart's Sonata in D Major, Andante Movement II (K448) or John Coltrane's rendition of My Favorite Things, a second 10-minute period of silence, the other of the two musical pieces and finally a third 10-minute period of silence.

The order of the music was randomised, meaning some participants listened to Mozart first and other participants listened to Coltrane first.

It found significantly higher levels of brainwave activity in participants when they were listening to music.

But the brainwave activity in people with epilepsy tended to synchronise more with the music, especially in the temporal lobe, than in people without epilepsy.

The study was presented at the American Psychological Association's 123rd Annual Convention.