Is classical music really better for learning?

The idea that listening to classical music increases intelligence—referred to as the “Mozart Effect”, has become popular worldwide. This idea started in 1993 with a paper published in the journal Nature by a psychologist named Francis Rauscher. The study found that college students who listened to classical music for 10 minutes scored significantly higher on a spatial reasoning task than students who took the same task after 10 minutes of silence or 10 minutes of listening to someone speak in a monotone voice. The findings of the study received a lot of interest from the media, however, the results were misconstrued and overgeneralized. The cognitive gains produced by the so-called “Mozart Effect” lasted only 10-15 minutes, and .despite the popularity of the “Mozart Effect”, subsequent experiments on the relationship between music and spatial reasoning have produced inconsistent results. So, there is no direct evidence that listening to classical music increases overall intelligence.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.