© 2008 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved
Is there is link between music and intelligence?
Yes, there is.
Forget the Mozart effect.
The real action seems to occur when children learn to play a musical instrument.
Music and intelligence:
The Mozart effect doesn’t cause lasting improvements in IQ
Everybody’s heard of the Mozart effect -—the notion that you can increase your intelligence by listening to Mozart’s music.
Experiments have revealed that people sometimes enjoy a brief improvement in visual-spatial skills immediately after listening to a Mozart sonata (Rauscher et al 1993; Hetland 2000).
However, the results have been inconsistent, with some labs reporting that they were unable to reproduce the effect.
It's also unclear if it’s really the music that is responsible for the temporary enhancement of intelligence. It seems more likely that people improve their performance because listening to music elevates their mood and leaves them feeling more alert (Schellenberg 2005).
Most importantly, the effects do not appear to last more than 10-15 minutes.
So if you’re looking for a way to boost your child’s intelligence, the Mozart effect is a bust.
Music might help prime people for concentrating on spatial tasks, and
there is evidence that kids who listen to music while they draw produce more creative artwork.
But that’s about it.
Taking music lessons, though...that’s another matter entirely.