Does Mozart make kids smarter?

In 1993, an experiment showed that students who listened to Mozart performed better on a task that measured visual imagination. in the so-called Paper folding and cutting task You see how a piece of paper is folded and how holes are cut in it. The question is what the paper will look like when it opens again. So the students who listened to Mozart for the first time did slightly better than the participants who weren’t allowed to hear any music beforehand.

Many media outlets later paid attention to this experience. And this is how the Mozart effect was born: listening to Mozart makes you smarter. But you cannot draw this conclusion based on this experience. In fact, some view the Mozart effect as one of the biggest misconceptions in psychology.

First, the subjects scored better on the task immediately after listening to the music, but the effect lasted no more than fifteen minutes. Second, it is doubtful whether Paper folding and cutting task Really measure your intelligence. After all, it is not an IQ test, it only measures a certain part of intelligence. Finally, Mozart’s music seems to have such an influence not only. Thriller author Stephen King has written Blur rock songs and children’s songs that can do just that, too. So the Mozart effect has nothing to do with Mozart.

It turns out that Mozart, Blore, Stephen King, and nursery rhymes cause a kind of excitement: they make you happy. This makes you more vigilant and you may get a slightly better result in such a task. Scientists discovered this by repeating the experience of 1993 with the sad music of the Baroque composer Tommaso Albinoni. What turned out? Participants scored the lowest quality in Paper cutting and folding task.

Another study showed that those who preferred Stephen King audiobooks scored better after listening to one of his books. Whoever prefers Mozart to King will benefit only after listening to this music.

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So it’s fine to wear a Mozart for your newborn, but it probably won’t make him any smarter. Moreover, children are not able to recognize all the structures and harmony in music at once. They can also be passionate about music, because they can hear many aspects of music, such as rhythm.

In any case, listening to music or composing it yourself has enough positive effects. It can affect your mood, regulate your feelings and create connection with others. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that music lessons might make you a little smarter, but it turns out that it’s hard to achieve. Besides, miracles will not work. After all, not only geniuses come from the conservatory.

Fleur Bohr is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam. It investigates, among other things, how our brains process and predict musical rhythms. Science journalist Anouk Burcht posed this question to her and recorded her answer.

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