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3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy 
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Post 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
Chapter 3.
Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy



Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:45 am
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
The most interesting aspect I took from this chapter is the emotional connection to music that triggers a seizure. For some, any number of random sounds can trigger a seizure, but for others, music from a wide spectrum can be a trigger, as long as they have some kind of emotional connection to the person.

I also found the idea of formes frustres to be incredibly intriguing, as it deals with the idea that many people may be prone to music or sound induced seizures but are able to escape a seizure by turning the music or other offending sound off before it can fully trigger them. This leads me to wonder how many people in the world actually suffer from some kind of epilepsy without even knowing it? In almost all of the cases we have seen thus far, some kind of head trauma was present from a past injury that clearly healed in all aspects except for the parts of the temporal lobe that process music. How many of us have had minor head injuries without having those lobes scanned? Do you find certain noises painful to the point of almost seizing if you don't turn them off?

I'm not trying to induce a panic or suggest that anyone who hits their head should be paranoid about temporal lobe damage, but it is an interesting thing to think about, especially if we are able to catch it in time to not have to find out whether or not we will have seizures. Sacks also theorizes that there are many more people in the world who may have epileptic reactions to certain flashing lights but are able to keep themselves from seizing by blocking the light.

I also think these studies are interesting in regards to anxiety disorders (I hate to keep talking about myself, but I'm writing from an "I can relate to this because of x experience" perspective). There are certain shows on television I can't watch because of loud sounds and almost strobe-like flashing, not because I will have a seizure, but because they often trigger me to have a panic attack. I realize this probably won't be covered in this book, but I'd be curious to know what part music might play in psychiatric/mood disorders.

I would certainly hate to be afraid or unable to listen to music, as the cases in this chapter have become because of their seizures. I'm glad for the woman who was able to listen to her favorite music again after a successful lobotamy, but not everyone can be "cured" this way, and I'm sure her recovery wasn't much rosier than her seizures.

Does anyone else know anyone who has had seizures? Do you know what possibly triggers them? I'd be interested to hear other personal stories about what else contributes to the onset of seizures.



Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:15 am
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
bleachededen wrote:
I'm glad for the woman who was able to listen to her favorite music again after a successful lobotomy, but not everyone can be "cured" this way, and I'm sure her recovery wasn't much rosier than her seizures.


The comment about the partial lobe removal triggered unpleasant memories of lobotomy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in me too but I didn't find much in the chapter that led me to believe "... her recovery wasn't much rosier than her seizures." The woman was unable to function before the lobotomy and was "normal" functioning after it. She did say she missed the "good" hallucinations but I'll bet she would make the trade again. Or, did I miss something important in this chapter?

We are only three chapters in but so far we have not been told much other than interesting stories. If the subject is Musicophilia then a question is, what make the experience of music in abnormal neurology different than other hallucinations? Why do some people experience music while others have different experiences? Inquiring minds want to know and look forward to finding the answer in the rest of the book.


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Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:01 pm
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
I didn't mean to suggest her life wasn't better without the debilitating seizures, but that recovering from a lobotomy (sorry for incorrect spelling in my earlier post) must have been a long and painful process. It is good to know she recovered fully and is able to live a meaningful life.

I'm not sure we'll necessarily get "answers" throughout the rest of the book. I have a feeling most of what we're going to be given are stories pertaining to this musicophilia and no real technical definitions. I think this is both good and bad, because while the stories are easy to read, not having technical facts showing why the music is different from other hallucinations keeps us from knowing if these cases really are separate from any other case or have just been singled out to fit the constraints of the book. I can't say either way, but I like that it is easy to read and will keep reading to find out.



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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
I had never heard of music being a source of seizures, although I have heard of flashing lights causing them. In my own thoughts it doesn't seem surprising that a certain tone or type of instrument could induce a seizure such as the guy with the aversion to brass. I can see someone being sensitive to a certain base frequency and timbre, also certain beats might induce a seizure. I found totally amazing the woman's sensitivity to Neapolitan music, not just a particular piece but as a class of music.

I was under the impression that seizures were some sort of short circuit or mass neural activity between the hemispheres through the corpus callosum and often treated in severe cases by surgically cutting the structure. Yet in briefly scanning epileptic seizures in Wikipedia, the above is but a small portion of the family of problem in epilepsy. The brain certainly is an amazing contraption. Kind of scary!

I agree that so far this book does seem to be a collection of anecdotes. I would find a general summation and explanation of what is happening in the brain useful.


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Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:19 am
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
Veneer wrote:
I agree that so far this book does seem to be a collection of anecdotes. I would find a general summation and explanation of what is happening in the brain useful.


I agree and share your hope. I have finished Part I and am still looking for some explanations.


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Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:30 am
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
GaryG48 wrote:
Veneer wrote:
I agree that so far this book does seem to be a collection of anecdotes. I would find a general summation and explanation of what is happening in the brain useful.


I agree and share your hope. I have finished Part I and am still looking for some explanations.


Unfortunately, I think the anecdotes are all there is to this book. I'm giving up on it and moving on to something else.


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Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:59 pm
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Post Re: 3. Fear of Music: Musicogenic Epilepsy
Saffron, I am sorry to hear that, although I am leaning toward agreeing with you. I don't really like non-fiction to begin with, and I'm honestly only reading a new chapter when someone posts in the thread here. If I feel ambitious I may tackle it anyway and get the new chapter discussions going myself, but I just can't seem to get as interested as I want to be in this book.

I'll miss seeing your responses, though. You always have such wonderful insights. :)



Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:00 pm
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