A: Many anxious parents try to do whatever they can to make sure their much-adored infants develop the highest IQ attainable. What this leads to, of course, is that any time there’s even the slightest mention of a possible trick, the idea spreads like wildfire.
In fact, one such notion circulating is that babies should be forced to listen to classical music as much as possible – not only because these baby Einsteins will emerge knowing all of Mozart’s compositions intimately, but because they’ll soon be doing linear algebra in their sleep. Unfortunately, this so-called Mozart effect is pure poo-poo.
The whole thing began when researchers reported that, after exposure to a selection of Mozart’s music, college students showed an increase in spatial reasoning for about 10 minutes on tasks like putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Note first that the research was done on college students, not infants, and second that the effect was very brief. More importantly, no one’s been able to replicate the research!
Increase in spatial reasoning, it turns out, can be generated by any auditory stimulation (e.g., listening to a short story or other types of music) that keeps people alert while being tested. Nevertheless, spurred on by fantastic claims from unscrupulous companies who sell Mozart-for-babies CDs, parents have swallowed the idea, hook, line, and pacifier.