Mozart effect is a hypothesis according to which spatial imagination can be improved by listening to classical music, particularly the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The hypothesis is based on a research by the University of California, Irvine when their findings were published in the prestigious journal 1993 nature. In the paper, the research group reported improved IQ test performance after listening to Mozart’s music. The name “Mozart Effect” was born in the journalistic coverage of the study and was later patented by Don Campbell.
University students writing their research paper on Mozart effect should know that the first hypothesis was not confirmed by further numerous independent experiments.
In their essay called “Music and spatial task performance” the group of researchers Katherine Ky, Gordon Shaw, and Frances Rauscher from the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory reported one experiment in which 36 students went through the part of Stanford-Binet intelligence tests with spatial tasks after 10 minutes of hearing Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D major (KV448) or instructions of a relaxation CD or 10 minutes were exposed to silence. After the intelligence tests, the students showed on average 8-9 points better results after listening to Mozart than after listening to the other two conditions. Although the authors emphasized in their study that the performance improvement only lasted 10-15 minutes and were yet to test whether the increase in performance would be observed also for other cognitive abilities and other music, the study in abbreviated form quickly appear in American newspapers and education policy. While in the New York Times it was announced that Mozart now had outstripped Beethove because Mozart’s music make you more intelligent, prompted the governor of Georgia to say that every mother of a newborn get paid a classical CD. And in Florida was enacted by law that in public kindergartens children have to listen to classical music one hour daily. Later, a popular science book was published whose title speaks for itself: “Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit” by Don Campbell with numerous Mozart Effect CDs. Don Campbell filed a patent for the term “Mozart Effect.”
Scientifically, the Mozart effect was not a success story. In the later 1990s and in the 2000s, several teams of researchers tried to replicate, verify, and systematize the results of Rauscher’s study, but the results achieved were not as described in the given study.
In the section “Scientific Correspondence” of Nature, a meta-analysis of 16 studies was presented with the result that the Mozart effect showing that the small temporary improvement can be explained with the arousal-and-mood hypothesis. Arousal refers to the state of excitement, which would occur according to Chabris in the right cerebral hemisphere and would facilitate dealing with spatial tasks in combination with the good mood because of perceived pleasant music.
In summary, the evidence is not sufficiently proven to determine a relationship between listening to the music of Mozart and the improvement of performance.
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