The Mozart Effect

Topics: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano, Music Pages: 9 (3416 words) Published: November 7, 2010
Have you ever hear the old saying “Mozart makes babies smarter”? Can a mother simply playing Mozart while the infant sleeps actually increase her baby’s brain function? Well there is now evidence that this once perceived ‘old wives tale’ is actually true. The studies done to prove this seemingly bizarre event have deemed it, The Mozart Effect. The Mozart Effect is a set of research results that indicate that listening to Mozart's music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as “spatial-temporal reasoning”. Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize mental pictures of spatial patterns and mentally changing them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations. This ability is important for generating and conceptualizing solutions to multi-step problems that arise in areas such as architecture, engineering, science, mathematics, art, games, and everyday life (“Definition of Spatial-Temporal Reasoning”). Major studies have been conducted on this theory, and the lead enthusiast and founder of this study was Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis. The concept of the "Mozart effect" was described by French researcher, Dr.Tomatis, in his 1991 book Pourquoi Mozart? He used the music of Mozart in his efforts to "retrain" the ear, and believed that listening to the music presented at differing frequencies helped the ear, and promoted healing and the development of the brain (Tomatis). Another enthusiast was J.S. Jenkins. His beliefs came from a study in 1993, that was conducted by Rauscher which made the surprising claim that, after listening to Mozart's sonata for two pianos (K448) for 10 minutes, normal subjects showed improvement in spatial reasoning skills than after periods of listening to relaxation instructions designed to lower blood pressure or silence. The mean spatial IQ scores were 8 and 9 points higher after listening to the music than in the other two conditions. The mentally stimulating effect did not extend beyond 10-15 minutes. These results proved controversial. Some investigators were unable to reproduce the findings, but others confirmed that listening to Mozart's sonata K448 produced a small increase in spatial-temporal performance, as measured by various tests derived from the Stanford—Binet scale such as paper-cutting and folding procedures or pencil-and-paper maze tasks (Jenkins, 1-2). However, Rauscher has stressed that the Mozart effect is limited to spatial temporal reasoning and that there is no enhancement of general intelligence; some of the negative results, she thinks, may have been due to inappropriate test procedures (Rauscher, 365). One major study conducted by Rauscher, with three to four year old pre-school children the original experiments on adults exposed to Mozart's music were of short duration only. In related experiments, long-term effects of music were studied in groups of pre-school children aged 3-4 years who were given keyboard music lessons for six months, during which time they studied pitch intervals, fingering techniques, sight reading, musical notation and playing from memory. At the end of training all the children were able to perform simple melodies by Beethoven and Mozart. When they did they were then subjected to spatial-temporal reasoning tests calibrated for age, and their performance was more than 30% better than that of children of similar age given either computer lessons for 6 months or no special training. The improvement was limited to spatial-temporal reasoning; there was no effect on spatial recognition. The effect lasted unchanged for 24 hours after the end of the music lessons but the precise duration of the enhancement was not further explored. The longer duration of the effects than in previous reports was attributed to the length of exposure to music and the greater plasticity of the young brain. In further experiments of this kind it has been claimed that the enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning in...
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