Musical hallucinations and their relation with epilepsy.


Parnassia Psychiatric Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands. [Email]


Musical hallucinations are poorly understood phenomena. Their relation with epilepsy was first described over a century ago, but never systematically explored. We, therefore, reviewed the literature, and assessed all descriptions of musical hallucinations attributed to epileptic activity. Our search yielded 191 articles, which together describe 983 unique patients, with 24 detailed descriptions of musical hallucinations related to epilepsy. We also describe six of our own patients. Based on the phenomenological descriptions and neurophysiological data, we distinguish four subgroups of epilepsy-related musical hallucination, comprising auras/ictal, inter-ictal and post-ictal phenomena, and phenomena related to brain stimulation. The case descriptions suggest that musical hallucinations in epilepsy can be conceptualised as lying on a continuum with other auditory hallucinations, including verbal auditory hallucinations, and-notably-tinnitus. To account for the underlying mechanism we propose a Bayesian model involving top-down and bottom-up prediction errors within the auditory network that incorporates findings from EEG and MEG studies. An analysis of phenomenological characteristics, pharmacological triggers, and treatment effects suggests wider ramifications for understanding musical hallucinations. We, therefore, conclude that musical hallucinations in epilepsy open a window to understanding these phenomena in a variety of conditions.


Antiepileptic,Auditory hallucination,EEG,MEG,Musical hallucinosis,Pharmacotherapy,