Debunking the Mozart Effect

Posted on: June 29, 2010

Monday (6/28) on the National Public Radio website, Alix Spiegel writes, “The newest issue of the journal Intelligence has the largest review ever of research on the so-called Mozart Effect, the popular idea that listening to classical music can enhance the intelligence of people in general and babies in particular. The review is titled ‘Mozart Effect, Schmozart Effect,’ which should give you some idea of its conclusion: there ain’t no such thing.” In 1993, psychologist Francis Rauscher measured spatial reasoning among 36 college students, first after they’d listened to 10 minutes of a Mozart sonata, then after 10 minutes of silence, then after hearing 10 minutes of monotone speaking. In a paper published in the journal Nature, “she reported that listening to Mozart’s music improved spatial reasoning for about 10 minutes. … The first call came from Associated Press before Rauscher had even realized that her paper was due to be published. Once the Associated Press printed its story the Mozart Effect was everywhere. … Rauscher still stands by her original finding, but says subsequent research has shown that it’s not really about Mozart. Any music that you find engaging will do the same thing, because compared to something like sitting in silence, the brain finds it stimulating.”

Posted June 29, 2010