Friday, March 03, 2006

More on the Mozart effect - Can music increase intelligence?

As I've noted before, "Current Directions in Psychological Science is a must read for scholars looking for a brief, contemporary “taking stock” summary of an area of psychological research. I review the contents of this journal on a regular basis. The articles are a good starting point for getting your head into a new research area or, for ascertaining the general consensus re: a research topic in psychology (broadly defined)."

The latest issue has such a summary re: the impact of music on cognitive abilities (Schellenberg, 2005 - Music and Cognitive Abilities). This general area of research often refers to the disputed "Mozart effect" , which has had more than ample play in the popular press. This current article (click here to view) provides one scholarly take on the current state of the empirical literature, possible explanations of the benefit of music on cognitive development, etc.

Abstract (emphasis added by blogmaster)
  • Does music make you smarter? Music listening and music lessons have been claimed to confer intellectual advantages. Any association between music and intellectual functioning would be notable only if the benefits apply reliably to nonmusical abilities and if music is unique in producing the effects. The available evidence indicates that music listening leads to enhanced performance on a variety of cognitive tests, but that such effects are short-term and stem from the impact of music on arousal level and mood, which, in turn, affect cognitive performance; experiences other than music listening have similar effects. Music lessons in childhood tell a different story. They are associated with small but general and long-lasting intellectual benefits that cannot be attributed to obvious confounding variables such as family income and parents’ education. The mechanisms underlying this association have yet to be determined.
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