The Relationship Between Listening to Classical Music and IQ Score

Have you ever heard people say that listening to classical music makes people smarter (the Mozart effect) and wonder if that was true? Do you ever wonder that if it is true, why is it true? When looking for answers, we right away type out Google on our computers and do some research; but haven’t you at least once read research whether reading the statistics or the summary section and had no idea what the reading was saying? This happens quite often. When people research to see if classical musical makes one smarter or not, they often only understand parts of the research and make quick judgements without actually understanding what the whole piece is trying to convey and truly understand the meaning of the findings. For instance, people read that listening to classical musical helped people improve their test scores on a specific IQ exam; therefore, they assume that classical musical makes people smarter in general. However, this is not the case; classical musical helps improve test scores on IQ exams only in certain areas of intelligence, not all areas.

There is a meta-analysis that explores more than 30 studies to explain the concepts and effects of the Mozart effect on its entirety. These studies have found that those who listen to classical music have increased their IQ scores on the Stanford-Binet IQ battery. This change in their IQ scores was brought about from a specific category of intelligence on the exam which was the spatial-temporal component. Spatial-temporal components of intelligence are aspects that deal with the efforts to convert mental images in the absence of a physical model. Listening to classical music such as Mozart, which was used in these studies, only affected the parts of intelligence that deals with spatial-temporal components; in this case, questions on the IQ exam that incorporated aspects of spatial-temporal measures were scored higher, increasing the overall score of the IQ exam. The studies have used participants from the same background and learning abilities, so the consideration of these findings to be due to the fact of correlation and not causation was dropped.

There were four hypotheses formed by researchers to help explain this phenomenon; trion model of the cortex, arousal hypothesis, mood and preference, and rhythm. The trion model of the cortex was a hypothesis that stated neurons in the cortex correlated with musical processes of three levels of activation clued-up or aroused the neurons used for spatial-temporal tasks when listening to classical music. The hypothesis of arousal suggested that listening to classical music heighten the level of adrenalin in the body and raised the performance on cognitive tasks related to spatial-temporal measures. The third hypothesis of mood and preference said that strong positive moods associated with listening to classical music increased arousal in the body and this promoted the enhancements of spatial tasks. This hypothesis only holds true based on the person’s preferences. In this case, preferences are viewed to be linked to arousal and arousal is viewed to be linked to the enhancement of cognitive performance. The rhythm hypothesis stated that the rhythm of the classical music being listened to increased arousal in the body thus increasing the performance on spatial measures. All of these hypotheses have a common feature incorporated in them: arousal. These all consist with arousing the body in some way in which will enhance our performance on tasks dealing with spatial-temporal measures. From the findings of all of the studies, the arousal theory was the one that shown to be effective and most reasonable.

There are many studies out there that have failed to find a Mozart effect. This is not due to there not being a Mozart effect but instead their own failure in being consistent with study measures. Replication efforts have deviated from treatments used, samples of subjects, experimental design, procedures, and the control group. This resulted in them failing to replicate studies that have found a Mozart effect.

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