Does listening to Mozart's music make children smarter?
One of the most popular myths about pregnant mothers is the "Mozart effect", according to which listening to music by Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can increase the intelligence of the child. It is not difficult to make the connection of Mozart's name with accelerated development as he is known as the smartest child in history.
The idea has also been promoted by retailers selling special recordings of Mozart's works for infants and toddlers. Some pregnant women even play Mozart recordings by wearing belly headphones.
So if you have or are expecting to have children, how seriously should you take the 'Mozart effect'?
There is no scientific evidence that listening to Mozart increases children's intelligence. The whole myth arose from a study done in 1993 according to which college students who listened to Mozart's Sonata for two years on the piano in D Major showed a modest improvement on a spatial reasoning test. Inspired by this discovery, musician and entrepreneur Don Campbell, in 1997 published the book 'The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit'. Campbell's claims to the magnificent powers of Mozart's music were constantly published in the media and fueled this obsession.
Since then, scientists have examined the claim that Mozart boosts intelligence and found no evidence for it. The original experiment with college students was reviewed in 1999 and the increase in student skills was found to be negligible.
In 2007, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research set up a team of experts to examine the scientific literature on Mozart and child development, but even they found no reason to believe that his music affects intelligence growth.