The other day I stumbled across this really fascinating video titled “Pediatricians Debunk 16 Baby Myths” by Insider. As someone who loves babies and is interested in development, I watched it and was fascinated to learn some of the myths that people believe and why they were incorrect.
Pediatricians Debunk 16 Baby Myths
[KGVID width=”640″ height=”360″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzFY1KDoaeU[/KGVID]
One of the ones that stuck out to me, however, was the myth “Playing classical music can make your baby smarter”. The experts said that sensory stimulation like music is very beneficial to the development of the baby, but it is certainly not as powerful in influencing intelligence as back and forth interaction between a baby and its caregivers.
Since we were talking about intelligence in class, I decided to do some research into where this idea came from and how it has seen a loss in relevancy. I found an article that described the timeline of the “Mozart effect”. It credits the origins of this myth to a study conducted on college students. They were given different listening states for a while, then given spatial IQ tests, and those who listened to the classical music showed higher scores in spatial IQ than those who didn’t. However, “The effect lasted for 15 minutes” (Quartz).
For some reason, people took it and ran with it and turned it into something beyond that original article ever claimed. I found a shortened version of the findings in a 1993 editorial of the Scientific Correspondence. In the discussion section, their goals with this information did not really go beyond hoping to “optimize this effect” (College) and to try applying it to general intelligence.
Since then, there has been research looking into the craze that took over parents to play Mozart for their kids. Most of them disprove the idea that it is a guarantee to ensure a high IQ for children. One study in particular showed that actually 10 and 11 year olds were better able to do a paper folding activity better after listening to pop music than kids who were listening to classical.
Later on, in 1999, someone at Harvard wrote a meta-analysis looking at 16 studies about music and cognitive ability. They found that the main cause for increased displays of intelligence after listening to music were due to “enjoyment arousal” (Meta-analysis). This means that someone listening to Mozart who doesn’t really like or understand music might not get much out of it. However, someone who already studies it or interacts with it can be stimulated enough to perform better on certain IQ tests.
This could possibly mean that someone who really loves dance could perform better on an IQ test after watching dancing. Or the same could go for an art student after walking around a museum. The real change comes from the “enjoyment arousal” and there should be more focus on that idea than specifically Mozart’s music. Imagine if, instead of believing in the “Mozart effect”, we held and had proven the idea that allowing children to be stimulated by things they enjoy would raise their IQ scores. That might completely restructure the way we educate and measure the IQ of our children.
(Quartz article) https://qz.com/628331/the-idea-that-mozart-makes-babies-smarter-is-one-of-parentings-most-bizarre-myths/
(College student Music study) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8413624
(10 and 11 music and cognitive ability) https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10002294/1/SchellenbergHallam2006Music202.pdf