The PJ Tatler

'Heaven' May Not Be for Real, but the 'Mozart Effect' Is

Those of us who raised our kids on Mozart know first-hand the truth of this research: exposing your children to complex musical forms early in life gives them a leg up on their cohort. It’s called “the Mozart Effect”:

Listening to Mozart can give your brain a boost, according to a new study. People who heard the classical composer’s music showed an increase in brain wave activity linked to memory, understanding and problem-solving, researchers found. However, no such increases were found after the group listened to Beethoven, suggesting there is something specific about the effect of Mozart’s music on our minds, they said.

As you read on, you will see that “by Beethoven” the story largely means the little piano piece Fuer Elise, not the Missa Solemnis or the Ninth Symphony.

For the study, which was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers used EEG machines to record the electrical activity of the participants’ brains. 

The group was made up of 10 young healthy adults with an average age of 33 (referred as the Adults), 10 healthy elderly adults with an average age of 85 (known as the Elderly), and 10 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment with an average age of 77 (referred to as MCI). Recordings were made before and after they listened to ‘L’allegro con spirito’ from the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K448 by Mozart, and before and after they listened to Fur Elise by Beethoven.

‘The results of our study show an increase in the alpha power and MF frequency index of background activity in both Adults and in the healthy elderly after listening to Mozart’s K448, a pattern of brain wave activity linked to intelligent quotient (IQ), memory, cognition and (having an) open mind to problem solving. No changes in EEG activity were detected in both adults and in the elderly after listening to Beethoven.

‘This result confirms that the observed EEG patterns are the result of the influence of Mozart’s sonata and not just a consequence of listening to music in general.’

Believe it or not, New York City used to have the greatest public-school music education system in the world, the result of the influx of the German Jews who brought their love of central European concert music with them. Now it leads the world in the use of metal detectors, thanks to the “Trazom Effect”of, say, rap “music,” which clearly makes kids stupider. “Progress.”