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The Mozart Effect

The many conclusions of research projects are fascinating, but can be a far stretch from relevant. One example is the exploration of expected connections between mathematics and music.

Consider the published paper "Music and Spatial Task Performance" (Nature, 1993), written by a research team from University of California-Irvine. Their conclusion: After listening to Mozart music for only ten minutes, a group of college students improved their spatial-temporal intelligence by 8 or 9 IQ points.

Now, the qualifying statements specific to transferring these results to mathematics classrooms:

  • Spatial-temporal intelligence is defined as the ability to mentally manipulate objects in 3-dimensional space, something which is useful in a mathematics education context
  • Subsquent reserachers has been unable to duplicate the published results, except for finding a similar effect when playing albums from the Grateful Dead
  • A great many families took the "Mozart Effect" as gospel, resulting in the playing of large doses of classical music to pregnant women...with no observable effects on a baby's spatial-temporal intelligence
  • The IQ boost from the "Mozart Effect" lasts only for 10-15 minutes.
My take on things...where's the same research using country-western music?

Source: NRTA Live & Learn, Fall 2006, p. 13