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Mozart Effect Theory: Can Music Raise Your IQ?

Updated on April 22, 2015

The young woman who was 8 months pregnant, asked the sales clerk for the Mozart CD that was supposed to increase a baby’s intelligence. The sales clerk said that the Mozart CD was a big seller and that a lot of women were playing Mozart to their unborn children to take full advantage of the Mozart effect.

The “Mozart effect,” as it came to be called, began in 1993 with a short study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The researchers played 10 minutes’ worth of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major to college students.

Then the students took a test that required them to visualize how objects changed over time, such as how a piece of paper that was folded and cut would look when it was unfolded. Subjects who had listened to Mozart showed a slight but temporary rise in scores on this test compared to subjects who sat through 10 minutes of silence. However, the researchers reported that the Mozart effect was not long lasting and had little effect on over-all intelligence.

Within no time, the Mozart effect was making headlines around the country: “Mozart Can Boost Intelligence.” Advertising for the Mozart CD claimed that listening to Mozart would stimulate young minds, improve intelligence, and raise IQs. Many parents believed the advertising and bought thousands of “Baby Mozart” videotapes and CDs. One mother said, “I am six months into my pregnancy and almost immediately upon playing the Mozart CD my baby started actively moving. I can really tell he enjoys it even though I can’t see him yet.” One government even wanted to pass a law that would give a free Mozart CD to all pregnant women in his state so that their children would have a boost intelligence.

However, when researchers looked closely at the Mozart effect they reported a different story. A Harvard neuropsychologist analyzed a dozen studies and reported that listening to classical music had no lasting effect on intelligence. Other researchers at Appalachian State University tried repeating the original Mozart study but were unable to find a “Mozart effect” and concluded that listening to classical music did not affect intelligence scores.

However, one nursery had positive proof of one effect. They had been playing classical music to their young children for the past 30 years. Without a doubt, listening to classical music helps kids relax and take their naps.


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  • John Sarkis profile image

    John Sarkis 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Great hub - I didn't know the whole deal started with Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major. I belong to a music group, and two of its members have played this in our concerts before.

    Thanks for the FYI


  • beth811 profile image

    beth811 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Glad to hear that you got to meet "The Mozart Effect" author and attended his workshops. How I wish I met him, too.

    Exposing infants to classical music helps them to develop a deeper love for music esp. classical. Classical music, unlike in any other kind of music has different pitches and tone and infants are sensitive to this and that makes their minds work faster but I don't think that it makes them genuises.

    You're right, Tony... listening to it calms us and stimulates our mind. I have a classical CD collection - Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, etc.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  • tonymac04 profile image

    Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

    I got to meet Don Campbell, who wrote the book "The Mozart Effect" when he visited South Africa a few times, and attended his workshops. I have no doubt that there is some benefit to children from listening to classical music, and for adults too, though I would not go as far as some would in claiming massive changes. I listen a lot to classical and especially Baroque music and find it calms me and helps my creativity.

    Thanks for sharing

    Love and peace