Can Mozart Really Make Us Smart?

Is the “Mozart Effect” real? You might have heard about it but is it true? Before you download a Mozart album, let us first look at what scientists are saying about this.

I was pondering about this thought after I called our pest control provider in Denver to schedule an appointment for my mom’s house. I suddenly recall the phrase “Mozart Effect” because it was the receptionist from this pest control company who told my mom about it years ago.  They have been helping us keep the pest out of our house for years, and we’ve become friends with them already. Before I proceed, you may click here if you are in Denver and need help with pests.

Going back, I remember my mom putting on Mozart during my study time. I was just a kid then so I did not understand what it was. I just thought my mom just wants to listen to classical music. I did a little research and discovered that the term “Mozart Effect” was first coined by Dr. Alfred Tomatis in his 1991 work called “Pourquoi, Mozart?” He came up with a technique of using music to stimulate the interconnections between the ear and brain to promote brain development and healing.

Two years later, a study on the effects of listening to Mozart’s music to spatial reasoning was published in the Nature journal. This was picked up by the public, and the study was blown-out of proportions. The original research by the University of California-Irvine did not even use the phrase “Mozart Effect” in their study. Mozart music was associated because the researchers used Mozart Sonata For Two Pianos in D Major (K448). The research also did not claim that the test subjects got “smarter”, they only noticed a significantly better spatial reasoning ability compared to those who completed the test in silence. And the increase in score is only seen to be temporary.

However, we should not discount the power of music to relax us and help us focus. Tests conducted using positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance scanning, has shown that our brain uses the left and right hemispheres of our brain. This means that a huge region in our brain, the same region we use for mental imaging, is activated when we listen to music.

Scientist also researched what was in Mozart’s music that causes the activation of the brain hemispheres. They found out that music with a high-degree of long-term periodicity would help enhance the ability in spatial-temporal reasoning. Periodicity is the repetition of same pattern at regular intervals. So regardless of who was the composer, if the music possess similar characteristics with Mozart’s compositions, would help stimulate the brain activity.

Therefore, we know that Mozart doesn’t make us smarter. I was exposed to his music when I was a kid and did not feel any brighter because I still had difficulty in some lessons. But I must admit, his music helped me focus. Perhaps it was because a significant portion of our brain is activated while listening as cited by the scientists.

And besides, I must say that nothing makes us smarter than learning a new skill, reading a book, experiencing the world. There is no shortcut to learning. Even if we listen to his music all day and yet not feed our mind, we will be remain where we started. Again, the music just enhances the ability of the brain. We can think of it as a warm-up for our brain as we take on a project or a task.

I hope this will not discourage you with listening to music. What I want to say is that we should not quickly jump into a bandwagon where there is a claim of “get this fast” schemes. If we want to be smarter, richer, and healthier, we have to put the right effort to attain it.