Treating Epilepsy with Music

How big is the problem

Around 1% of the global population, nearly 80 million, suffers from epilepsy. A third of cases do not respond to available medication, and these have been our focus in early trials. Current treatments range from long-term medication to vagus nerve stimulation and brain surgery, each of which has disadvantages, ranging from damaging long-term side effects to surgical risk.

Our Application

X-System works by selecting music that has patterns similar to those in the electrical activity of an individual patient’s brain when it is behaving normally and playing it to them overnight. 

Adapted for nighttime listening and played during sleep, the music acts directly on the brain, causing it to synchronise with patterns in the music, replicating and extending healthy brainwave activity.The diagrams below show the EEG of one subject in our initial pilot study before and after listening to the X-System playlist

EEG before listening to playlist 
EEG after listening to playlist 

How it works

  1. A patient spends two nights in hospital for overnight brain scans (EEGs)
  2. From this data, a neurologist identifies periods of healthy brainwave activity
  3. We convert this EEG data into its audio equivalent: ‘the sound of the brain working.’ 
  4. X-System searches for music in the repertoire with patterns that match this sound.
  5. The resulting playlist is adapted for overnight listening and played during sleep.
  6. The aim is that the brain synchronise unconsciously

The Outcome

Our aim is to reduce epileptic spike activity and improve sleep architecture, particularly by increasing the proportion of REM sleep – the healthy sleep phase

Initial results have been encouraging and we are currently engaged in further trials as we seek to confirm the effectiveness of our treatment and seek medical certification

Other applications

We expect the same process to be applicable to sleep disorders, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic distress syndrome (PTSD). Still, specific trials for each condition will be required, which remains a work process.