Scientists study music hallucinations

July 12, 2005

Psychiatrists at St. Cadoc's Hospital in Wales have issued the largest case-series study ever published concerning musical hallucinations.

Although the condition has been known for more than a century, it has rarely been studied, The New York Times reported Tuesday. It is believed musical hallucinations result from malfunctioning brain networks.

Dr. Victor Aziz and Dr. Nick Warner analyzed 30 cases of musical hallucination covering 15 years and found in two-thirds of the cases musical hallucinations were the only mental disturbance experienced by the patients.

Women tended to suffer musical hallucinations more than men, and the average patient was 78 years old. Religious music was heard in two-thirds of the cases.

The researchers noted musical hallucinations differ from the auditory hallucinations of people with schizophrenia in that only music is heard.

There is no treatment, with some doctors trying antipsychotic drugs, with others using cognitive behavioral therapy.

Aziz told the Times he suspects musical hallucinations will become more commonplace since people today are awash in music from radios, televisions, elevators and supermarkets. "I hope I live long enough to find out myself in 20 years time," he said.

The study appears in the July issue of the journal Psychopathology.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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