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The Musical Medicine
by admin on: October 4th, 2011

When most people think of “side effects” for perscription drugs they think of head aches, dizines, or nausea, negative things in other words. However, there are exceptions where prescription drugs cause unintended positive side effects. A good example of this was published in a paper by Rohrer, Smith and Warren in the journal Epilepsia, May 2006, titled “Craving for music after treatment for partial epilepsy.” It described the case of a young woman who suffered from severe seizures of the temporal lobe which were treated by the drug Lamotrigine (LTG).

Lamotrigine is an anticonvolusant drug that is used to treat epileptic seizures and bipolar disorder. It is the only drug, other than lithium, that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used as a mood stabilizer. It is used for maintenance treatment in the case of bipolar type I disorder.

Before the young lady started taking her medication, she was not greatly inclined towards music. She would not even listen to music for pleasure. However, within a few weeks of being on LTG, a startling transformation in her feelings towards music was observed. She became completely addicted to it, listening to music on the radio, attending concerts, and watching music programs on the television. While she did not sing or learn to play an instrument, she clearly began to enjoy music in a way she never had before her therapy.

The precise reason for this sudden interest in music is still not known. The scientists suggest that it could be facilitated by the use of anticonvolusants like LTD. Such facilitation could intensify the connection between emotional centers of the limbic system and perceptual centers of the temporal lobes.

It is very intriguing to study the different manners in which drugs interact with our brains, sometimes producing beneficial, harmless, or even pleasurable side-effects, as in this case.

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