Music and Thinking
Irvine, Calif. — Keeping Mozart in Mind, a new, landmark book by Dr. Gordon Shaw to be released in September, presents the latest scientific findings on the effects of music on reasoning and learning, and the real story behind the “Mozart effect” research. Dr. Shaw, world-renowned for his leadership in the music and the brain studies and co-discoverer of the “Mozart effect”, starts with the theme “music as a window into higher brain function.” Building from that, he shows how music can help us understand how the brain works and how music may enhance how we think, reason and create.
This interdisciplinary book represents over 25 years of Dr. Shaws music/brain research and includes key information about his original research and that of other scientists around the world. While it offers the most comprehensive overview of the relevant scientific research available in one place, Keeping Mozart in Mind is written in a style that makes this information accessible to not only researchers and clinicians, but also educators and parents.
Keeping Mozart in Mind is divided into five distinct topics. Part I gives the essential ideas of Dr. Shaw’s theme that music can enhance our ability to think and reason. He supports this theme with history, anecdotes and a series of interviews. Part II contains the more technical aspects of how music enhances learning. Made readable and accessible to everyone, Keeping Mozart in Mind contains a complete glossary, notes and a brief guide at the beginning of each chapter to outline the important points and objectives. Part III contains all the details of the dramatic behavior experiments that were performed with humans involving music. Part IV presents the results and proposed studies that are crucial to the detailed scientific understanding of what is happening in the brain. Part V presents the future of music as an influence upon higher brain function. Included in this section is a look at education along with Dr. Shaw’s conclusion on how music might enhance child brain development.
Keeping Mozart in Mind includes key information about scientific research studies that have shown some remarkable results, including:
–In March 1999, Neurological Research published the latest study headed by Shaw, reporting that second graders who played the piano and the S.T.A.R. o interactive game developed by Matthew Peterson saw their scores rise 27% on proportional math and fractions tests.
–In February 1997, a study from Dr. Shaws laboratory, published in Neurological Research, announced that six months of piano keyboard training caused enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning in preschool children: they scored 34% higher on puzzle-solving tests.
–In November, 1993, Dr. Shaw and Dr. Francs Rauscher published an article in Nature. It announced that a study done with college students showed that listening to the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D. Major (K. 448) caused a subsequent enhancement in reasoning. This “Mozart effect,” as coined by the media, created worldwide interest. It quickly became part of the popular folklore that was referred to in comic strips, advertisements, music CDs, and more.
Excerpt from the Preface: This book is our story of higher brain function: how humans think, reason, and create. It is based on a structured model of the brain that Xiaodan Leng and I proposed in 1991; it demonstrates how music is a window into higher brain function. This book is not about music, but about how music can help us understand how the brain works and how music can enhance how we think, reason and create. We are at the very beginning of this quest: much additional research remains to be done. However, I believe that we have made considerable progress and that all the pieces of the story presented here fit into a coherent and compelling picture.
Excerpt from the Prologue: The ideas presented in this book cross many boundaries, including brain theory, neurophysiology, child development, music cognition, education, teaching of music, teaching of math and science, neuropathology, psychology, and the evolution of the brain. But why should I write this book now when we are at the very early and controversial stages of this quest to understand how we think and reason by using music as a window into higher brain function? The reason is that I believe this book brings together the diverse experimental data and theory that support this model.
Let me present it as a substantial number of pieces in a puzzle: Looking at each piece of the puzzle, a careful thinker would have many questions and doubts about the results from any individual piece. Furthermore, the pieces are not big enough to make the final result obvious. However, by carefully examining each piece and the relationship among the pieces, I believe it becomes extremely likely that we are on the right track. In fact, I hope that this book will serve as the necessary guide in completing the puzzle of higher brain function.
The book is accompanied by a CD-Rom that includes Mozarts Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, (K.448), performed by Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu, courtesy of Sony Classical, and a demonstration of S.T.A.R. (Spatial-Temporal Animation Reasoning), an interactive software program developed by Matthew Peterson, that was used in combination with piano lessons in a recent study where elementary age children showed significant improvement in the ability to learn difficult math concepts.
D. Gordon Shaw is a professor emeritus in the Center of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the Department of Physics at the University of California, Irvine.
Keeping Mozart in Mind is available in bookstores September 1999, c.400pp., casebound/CD-rom enclosed, $49.95, ISBN: 0-12-639290-0. > > > >
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