'Mozart Effect' Strikes False Chord
By Reet Rana
NEW YORK - The 'Mozart effect' - a reported temporary increase in intelligence after listening to a Mozart piano sonata " does not hold up in repeat studies, according to a report published in the journal Psychological Science.
There is "little evidence to support basing intellectual intervention programs on the existence of the Mozart effect," according to researchers led by Dr. Kenneth Steele, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
First reported in 1993 by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and again by the same team two years later, the Mozart effect resulted from two studies that showed an 8- to 9-point improvement on IQ tests in 36 college students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K. 448). The downside of the reported effect: the IQ boost was temporary, lasting less than 15 minutes. The California team explained their findings by saying the temporary increase in intelligence scores was a unique neurophysiological priming effect that was due to some unique aspect of Mozart's classical music.
But in their report, the North Carolina team notes that other scientists around the world have tried and failed to replicate the studies that suggested the Mozart effect.
The Appalachian State University researchers conducted their own study, which replicated the original study's exact directions, and increased the sample size to 125 people. However, they also did not find a temporary boost in intelligence among study participants after listening to Mozart.
Searching for an alternative way of explaining the Mozart effect, Steele suggests that better performance on these tasks may be due to a better mood.
"Positive mood could be an alternative explanation of a Mozart-like effect," Steele said in an interview with Reuters Health.
Steele said that by copying the procedures of the initial studies, and showing no effect in relation to the music, their team has "debunked the myth that listening to classical music can make you smarter."