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Mozart Won't Make Your Kid Smarter

In 1993,  researchers at the University of California discovered what they dubbed the “Mozart Effect.”  Studying a group of student’s academic performance after listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, they claimed to have documented a temporary enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning as measured by a standard IQ test. In other words, the kids got smarter by listening to classical music.

Despite the fact that those results could not be duplicated by other researchers, parents bought into it big time.  As a result, a new industry was born in which classical music CD’s were marketed specifically for babies. 

But today, after analyzing all those other attempts to recreate the Mozart Effect, researchers in the composer’s home country have declared the entire theory to be false.   By looking at the results of some 40 other studies conducted worldwide since the original study, researchers at the University of Vienna say that while listening to music may temporarily enhance a person’s reasoning ability, it doesn’t matter if the music is Mozart or Metallica.

Head researcher Jakob Pietschnig explains.

“Those who listened to music, Mozart or something else – Bach, Pearl Jam – had better results than the silent group. But we already knew people perform better if they have a stimulus.”

So, does this mean we should let our kids rock out while doing their homework?  Probably not.   A 2006 study out of UCLA found that kids who attempt to multi-task while doing homework (listening to music, watching television or surfing the web) might not only learn less, but store what they do learn in a part of the brain that is less suited for long-term memory and understanding.

Image: TedsBlog/Flickr

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