Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

The "Mozart Effect" and the Mathematical Connection

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

The "Mozart Effect" and the Mathematical Connection

Article excerpt

Over the last 17 years, researchers have claimed that the "Mozart Effect" accomplished everything from temporary increases in IQ_to creating the mental mechanism needed for infants to develop reasoning and analytical prowess. The term "Mozart Effect" relates specifically to the Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993, 1995) neuropsychology research that reported temporary increases in college students' ability to perform spatial-temporal tasks as evidenced by increased IQ. scores after passively listening to 10 minutes of Mozart's sonata K. 448. Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize spatial patterns and mentally manipulate them over a time-ordered sequence of spatial transformations. Following Rauscher's initial report, a rigorous scientific discussion ensued in the psychological and educational literature with findings that supported the Rauscher studies (Rauscher & Shaw, 1998; Rideout, Dougherty, & Wernert, 1998; Rideout &Laubach, 1996; Rideout & Taylor, 1997; Sarnthein et al., 1997; Wilson & Brown, 1997) and those that repudiated Rauscher's findings (Newman et al., 1995; Steele, Ball, & Runk, 1997; Steele, Brown, 8f Stoecker, 1999; Stough, Kerkin, Bates, & Mangan, 1994).

The inability of some to replicate the Mozart Effect in similar laboratory experiments (Steele, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006; Steele, Brown, & Stoecker, 1999) served only to fuel the Rauscher camp's staunch replies and extensions of the Mozart Effect evidence (Rauscher, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006; Rauscher & Hinton, 2006; Rauscher, Robinson, & Jens, 1998; Rauscher 8f Shaw, 1998; Rauscher & Zupan, 2000; Rauscher et al., 1997; Rideout, 1999). The controversy over the Mozart Effect exists as a result of the misconception that listening to Mozart can enhance general intelligence (Newman et al., 1995; Rauscher, 1999; Steele, Ball, & Runk, 1997). Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993, 1995) only claimed temporary increases in college students' ability to perform spatial-temporal tasks as evidenced by increased IQ. scores after passively listening to Mozart. Conflicting results from meta-analyses and rebuttals furthered the debate (Chabris, 1999; Hetland, 2000; Rauscher, 1999; Steele et al., 1999) and spurred continued investigation into the Mozart Effect phenomenon resulting once again in mixed results (Bridgett & Ceuvas, 2000; Hui, 2006; Jausovec ë^Habe, 2004; Jausovec, Jausovec, & Gerlic, 2006; McKelvie & Low, 2002; Standing, Verpaeist, & Ulmer, 2008; Zhu et al., 2008). Chabris (1999) conducted a meta-analysis of 16 Mozart Effect studies that found no change in IQ_or spatial reasoning ability. According to Rauscher and Hinton (2006), Chabris used "inappropriate tasks, music, and diverse research methods" (p. 233). A more recent meta-analysis conducted by Hetland (2000) that included 36 studies and involved 2,465 participants found that the Mozart Effect does exist, but "is limited to a specific type of spatial task that requires mental rotation in the absence of a physical model" (p. 136). The theoretical and educational questions regarding the existence and applicability of the Mozart Effect remain unresolved.

Even though the controversy over the Mozart Effect continued, some were willing to take the risk. The thought of a quick solution to better develop babies' minds captured the public's attention. Lending credibility to the public's Mozart Effect furor, Zell Miller, governor of Georgia at the time, required the distribution of classical music CDs to all infants born in Georgia (Winner & Hetland, 1999). Other states soon followed, requiring classical music tobe played in daycare centers and even for inmates in prison (Bangerter & Heath, 2004). At its peak, the popularized notion of the Mozart Effect morphed into a scientific legend (Bangerter & Heath, 2004), driving a huge electronic media market that coupled classical music and simple imagery in a variety of videos and other products promoted to expedite education for babies and toddlers. …

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