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Epilepsia. 1997 Feb;38(2):200-7.

Musicogenic epilepsy: review of the literature and case report with ictal single photon emission computed tomography.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.



We report a case of musicogenic epilepsy with ictal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) study and discuss the findings of this patient in the context of 76 cases with musicogenic epilepsy described in the literature and seven other cases followed in Zurich.


We analyzed the 83 patients according to the precipitating musical factors, type of epilepsy, presumed localization of seizure onset, and demographic data.


Fourteen of 83 patients (17%) had seizures triggered exclusively by music. At time of examination, music was the only known precipitating stimulus in 65 of 83 patients (78%). Various characteristics of the musical stimulus were significant, e.g., musical category, familiarity, and instruments.


Musicogenic epilepsy is a particular form of epilepsy with a strong correlation to the temporal lobe and a right-sided preponderance. A high musial standard might predispose for musicogenic epilepsy. Moreover, the majority of cases do not fall into the category of a strictly defined "reflex epilepsy," but appear to depend on the indermediary of a certain emotional reaction mediated through limbic mesial temporal lobe structures.

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