Videopolygraphic and functional MRI study of musicogenic epilepsy. A case report and literature review

Francesca Pittau, Paolo Tinuper, Francesca Bisulli, Ilaria Naldi, Pietro Cortelli, Antonietta Bisulli, Carlotta Stipa, Daniela Cevolani, Raffaele Agati, Marco Leonardi, Agostino Baruzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 36-year-old right-handed man, who had experienced partial seizures since the age of 24 every time he played or listened to music with a strong emotional charge, underwent videopolygraphic recording, including autonomic variables, and brain fMRI study during which he listened to both "neutral" and "emotionally charged" music. Three right temporal seizures recorded during videopolygraphic monitoring were elicited by listening to the triggering song. The fMRI study disclosed activation in right acoustic areas during "neutral music," whereas an "emotionally charged melody" provoked widespread activation over the right fronto-temporo-occipital area before seizure onset. The literature review disclosed 110 published cases of musicogenic epilepsy that seemed to suggest a right-sided predominance of the epileptogenic zone. Our results support the role of the right temporal lobe in musicogenic epilepsy and demonstrate that the cerebral areas activated during the period of strong emotion leading to the seizures encompass the auditory cortex activated by neutral music.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-692
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Epilepsy and music
  • Musicogenic epilepsy
  • Reflex epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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