Does listening to Mozart make you smarter?
Scientists have long been debating the alleged performance-enhancing effects of hearing classical music. However, researchers in Vienna have found no evidence that listening to Mozart can improve one's cerebral capacity.
Researchers Jakob Pietschnig, Martin Voracek and Anton K. Formann from the University of Vienna found no evidence that listening to Mozart would improve intelligence.
In 1993, a finding by University of California Irvine psychologist Frances H. Rauscher and her associates, published in Nature, showed that exposure to Mozart boosted spatial task performance among college students.
Mozart's 1781 sonata for two pianos in D major (KV 448) supposedly enhanced students' cognitive abilities through mere listening.
Scientific articles only rarely attract such public attention and excitement as was the case for Rauscher's publication.
The New York Times wrote that listening to Mozart would give college-bound students an edge in the SAT. What is more, other commentators hailed Mozart's music as a magic bullet to boost children's intelligence.
SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test is a standardised test for college admissions in the US.
In the course of this hype, then Georgia governor Zell Miller even issued a bill in 1998, ensuring that every mother of a newborn would receive a complimentary classical music CD.
In the scientific community, however, Rauscher's finding was met with scepticism, as researchers around the world found it surprisingly hard to replicate.
Pietschnig, Voracek and Formann's comprehensive review study synthesises the entirety of the scientific record on the topic.
Retrieved for this systematic investigation were about 40 independent studies, published ones as well as a number of unpublished academic theses from the US and elsewhere, totalling more than 3,000 participants.
The researchers' key finding is clear-cut: based on cumulated evidence, there remains no support for gains in spatial ability specifically due to listening to Mozart.
These findings were published in the journal Intelligence.