Is it True that Classical Music Makes People Smarter? Is the Mozart Effect True?

In one of our past news, we have posted about the “Mozart effect” which will affect the spatial reasoning capabilities and general intelligence as well as hearing of unborn babies. Now, a study suggests that listening to classical music can improve spatial reasoning skills, hearing abilities and even the general intelligence of people. So how true is the “Mozart Effect?”

What is exactly is the Mozart Effect?

The “Mozart Effect” is a term used by scientists in 1993 at the University of California, Irvine. Individuals were asked to listen for 10 minutes Mozart’s sonata for two pianos (K448). Others were invited to listen to relaxation audio specially created for lowering blood pressure or they just listen to silence.

As for the result, there is a significant increase in spatial reasoning skills on those who took the test which lasted for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Because of the result, nurseries in the United States started playing classical music to children. In fact, shortly after the study came out, new-born babies in the southern state of Georgia were given free classical CDs.

In the same study, a group of three to four-year-old children were given lessons of the keyboard for six months to investigate the effects of music on the brain on a long-term basis. As a result, those who took six months of keyboard training were 30 percent better in their performance when they took the test in spatial-temporal reasoning compared to those who studied computer or no specialized training at all.

Contrary to the initial Mozart based experiment which lasted only for 15 minutes, the increase of spatial-temporal abilities of young children lasted for 24 hours. The length of exposure to music and the greater plasticity of the adolescent brain contribute to the result of the test according to study.

On a separate test, a group of rats in utero were tested. The first group was exposed to the sonata of Mozart for two pianos while the other group listened to Philip Glass’ minimalist music. After the exposure, they were placed in a maze and observed their performance to find their way through it.

The result shows that the group exposed to Mozart’s music completed the maze quickly and with fewer errors than those that are exposed to Philip Glass’s music. The result of the test led into a suggestion that Mozart’s musical complexity in his compositions has a positive impact on the spatial reasoning of the people.

Can you really become Smarter in Music?

The results of these studies may have been fascinating yet very controversial. Critics of the findings would argue that the “Mozart Effect” is nothing but an “enjoyment arousal.” This means that because the subjects have enjoyed and appreciated the music they’ve heard, it enhances their spatial reasoning and not due to the mysterious effect of Mozart’s music in the brain.

Jakob Pietschnig, the one who led the study said that they had better results on people who listened to Mozart, Bach, and their contemporaries or even modern type of music than the silent group. However, we all know that the performance of the people would improve if they had a stimulus.

He added that he would recommend listening to Mozart to everyone, but there is no guarantee that it would improve their cognitive abilities as what other people are expecting.

According to scientists, the area in the brain that connects to the spatial reasoning of the person is activated as they listen to any music. Thus, this effect would be more accurately labeled as the “general music effect.”