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Q: Will Listening to Mozart Make Your Child Smart?

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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.

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  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yea, um, Penn & Teller covered this like a year ago with their show on HBO called Bullshit

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Oddly enough, listening to Nickelback long enough makes my head smart.

  • Donnie Marler

    I found spending time with my children and engaging in actual conversation did more for them than any baby magic trick.
    I agree with Matt. Nickelback makes my head smart too after a few songs.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    If by “a few” you mean “one,” I’m with you, Donnie. If by “long enough” you mean “at all,” I’m with you Suss.

  • Jeff

    So basically this whole report is shooting down the idea that it is possible that Mozart music makes people smarter. I think it is possible…

  • Reggae

    After hearing about this theory long time ago I decided to do my own experiment with my unborn child. The mother and I chose some Mozart music and put the headphones close to the belly. Conclusion in short is that it works. My son recently got awarded for good progress and enthusiasm in piano playing and has been rated “as good as or better than 99% of kids his own age” in my country both in math and languages (pop.:300.000). Its tempting to believe that its all in the genes…but unfortunately I think I must give some credit if not all to the “Mozart effect” ;). With another “Guinea pig” on the way I feel its necessary to apply the same method. :)