Mozart effect—Mozart makes you smarter
Though the phrase ‘Mozart effect’ was coined in 1991 by French researcher Alfred A. Tomatis, it came into prominence in 1993.
The popular theory states that early childhood exposure to Mozart or just listening to Mozart has positive effects on mental development.
Who doesn’t want a ‘baby Einstein’?
Psychologist Frances Rauscher and her team from the University of California investigated and published results in the —1993 journal in Nature. The study was conducted on only 36 young adults. They found, after listening to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, participants had a temporary increase in ‘spatial reasoning’.
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualise and manipulate objects in 3-dimensional space.
But the effect lasted for about 10 to 15 minutes. The investigation however did not say anything on the general intelligence quotient(IQ).
The idea took off immediately, even though the results were temporary and only benefit spatial abilities. The general public misunderstood the results for the general intelligence quotient rather than spatial skills. Further, it spread through news articles, and columns. Some Mozart fans used this to dethrone Beethoven as being the greatest music composer.
In addition, new claims were made that private piano lessons for 3 to 4 years old yielded 30 percent better results than any other non-piano training. Further, in 1998 in Georgia, every child born in the state was provided with a tape or CD of classical music. And for this, the governor announced that the state budget would include $105,000 a year for the ‘Mozart effect’.
It is said that the farmers in Italy played Mozart to buffaloes to help them produce better milk. See, smarter buffaloes produce better milk!
The ‘Mozart effect’ by now have become a marketing tool. Used by the music industry and private schools for selling CDs, albums, lessons or courses. And parents play Mozart to their children.
More studies followed supporting the theory, but it was stated that any other music would have the same result. And not only in visual abilities but also in creative problem-solving.
However, a meta-analysis showed that the benefits are short term and don’t make us intelligent. It further led to enjoyment arousal that is those who enjoy what they heard only get enhanced abilities. Hence, mindful enjoyment is the means.
A report published by the German ministry in 2007 stated that- passively listening to Mozart or any other music doesn’t make you smarter.
The German ministry’s commissioned report was the first concrete and systematic study on the ‘Mozart effect’. The study was conducted by a team of neuroscientists, psychologists, educationalists and philosophers.
So then I can’t get smarter?
No, you can get smarter by learning music. Jessica Grahn, a cognitive scientist at Western University in London, Ontario says that a year of piano lessons, combined with regular practice can increase IQ by as much as three points.
So grab your instruments and start your lessons.
By the way, do listening to music has no benefits?
Benefits of Music
Music is used in medical treatment. Music therapy is used to enhance conventional treatments for various illnesses. But some of the health benefits are noted below:
- Stress buster: Music is said to trigger the production of endorphin—stress-reducer.
- Mood uplifter: Ever went to a concert and felt happy? Music is processed by the amygdala, which is responsible for mood and emotions. And this boosts the secretion of dopamine, hence reducing anxiety and depression.
- Good for heart: Researchers have found music to reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormone in the blood.
- Improves exercise: Upbeat music helps to get energized and motivated during physical exercise.
- Helps to sleep better: A study showed that students who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before turning in, slept significantly better than students who listened to an audiobook or did nothing different from their normal routine.
- Reduces pain: A research at Drexel University in Philadelphia found that music therapy and pre-recorded music reduced pain more than standard treatments in cancer patients. So, next time in pain play some music.
Music has been a way of expressing feelings, emotions and relationships. Happy or sad, loved or heartbroken, pappy or romantic for all occasions we have one. Even if listening to music doesn’t make you smarter, its presence has never been or will be dimmed. It is a me-time to listen to any pop or classic.