Mozart's Music Does Not Make You Smarter, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (May 10, 2010) — For over 15 years, scientists have been 
discussing alleged performance-enhancing effects of hearing classical music. 
Now, University of Vienna researchers Jakob Pietschnig, Martin Voracek and 
Anton K. Formann present quite definite results on this so-called "Mozart 
effect" in the US journal Intelligence. These new findings suggest no evidence 
for specific cognitive enhancements by mere listening to Mozart's music.

In 1993, in the journal Nature, University of California at Irvine psychologist 
Frances H. Rauscher and her associates reported findings of enhanced spatial 
task performance among college students after exposure to Mozart's music. 
Mozart's 1781 sonata for two pianos in D major (KV 448) supposedly enhanced 
students' cognitive abilities through mere listening. Scientific articles only 
rarely attract such public attention and excitement as was the case for 
Rauscher's publication: the New York Times wrote that listening to Mozart would 
give college-bound students an edge in the SAT. What is more, other 
commentators hailed Mozart music as a magic bullet to boost children's 

In the course of this hype, then Georgia governor Zell Miller even issued a 
bill in 1998, ensuring that every mother of a newborn would receive a 
complimentary classical music CD. In the same year, Florida's state government 
passed a law, requiring state-funded day-care centers to play at least one hour 
of classical music a day.

Debunking the myth

In the scientific community, however, Rauscher's finding was met with 
scepticism, as researchers around the world found it surprisingly hard to 
replicate. University of Vienna psychologists Jakob Pietschnig, Martin Voracek, 
and Anton K. Formann now report the findings of their meta-analysis of the 
"Mozart effect" in the US journal Intelligence.

Their comprehensive study of studies synthesizes the entirety of the scientific 
record on the topic. Retrieved for this systematic investigation were about 40 
independent studies, published ones as well as a number of unpublished academic 
theses from the US and elsewhere, totalling more than 3000 participants.

The University of Vienna researchers' key finding is clear-cut: based on the 
cumulated evidence, there remains no support for gains in spatial ability 
specifically due to listening to Mozart music.

"I recommend listening to Mozart to everyone, but it will not meet expectations 
of boosting cognitive abilities," says Jakob Pietschnig, lead author of the 
study. A specific "Mozart effect," as suggested by Rauscher's 1993 publication 
in Nature, could not be confirmed. The meta-analysis from the University of 
Vienna exposes the "Mozart effect" as a legend, thus concurring with Emory 
University psychologist Scott E. Lilienfeld, who in his recent book "50 Great 
Myths of Popular Psychology" already ranked the "Mozart effect" number six.

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