has been considerable media coverage
given to the latest in psychological
research from the Appalachian State
University study challenging the
Mozart Effect as well a book titled
the Myth of the First Three Years
(The Free Press, John T. Bruer )
which would have us believe that
these first years aren't nearly as
important or critical to learning
as we have been led to believe.
On Wednesday, August 25, 1999 an article
apeared in the scientific peer review
journal Nature citing Christopher Chabris
of the Department of Psychology, Harvard
University, Cambridge, Massachusetts presenting
an analysis of 17 studies and suggesting
that the (Mozart) effect is less than would
arise by chance. In the same issue of Nature,
Kenneth Steele of the Department of Psychology,
Appalachian State University, Boone, North
Carolina and colleagues try, and fail, to
replicate the original result, and Rauscher
defends her original conclusions from these
Rauscher stresses that popular misconceptions
that her work showed a relationship between
listening to Mozart and general intelligence have arisen. Her original
result, which is, she claims, upheld by other studies, reported
ONLY AN IMPROVEMENT IN TASKS INVOLVING ORDERING OBJECTS IN SPACE
The initial music brain study, conducted by
Drs. Shaw and Rauscher suggested that students
exposed to 10 minutes of music by Mozart,
specifically Allegro conspirito from Sonata for Two Pianos in D major,
K448 caused an enhancement in reasoning (ordering objects in space
and time) lasting from some 10-15 minutes.
This study led to other studies, including
the one noted in Neurological Research in
February 1997 stating that 6 months of piano
keyboard training causes enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning
in preschool children lasting several days.
Dr. Norman Weinberger, Executive Director
of the International Foundation for Music
Research, responded to the Appalachian State University study. He
studies have failed to replicate the Shaw/Rauscher original Mozart effect of
Fran Rauscher wrote an article explaining the failures... there have also been
some successes. I would be extremely cautious about arguing that passive listening
to music briefly produces an "increase in IQ" (even transiently). The
major transfer effects of music are likely to come from active playing of music
and in continual music education experiences."
ACTIVE MUSIC MAKING, NOT PASSIVE LISTENING is the key to enhanced spatial-temporal
reasoning (higher math skills require this). That is not to say that there isn't
a benefit to passive listening, just that research has been focused on active
participation. We will continue to keep you posted on the debate.
Dr. Shaw continues his research on the brain and the cumulative total of his
work (25 years) will appear in his book, Keeping Mozart in Mind, (Academic Press)
which is due in bookstores on September 7, 1999.
AMC has been working with the media throughout the past two weeks to be sure
that a balanced story appears in each article challenging the Shaw/Rauscher research.
Our media contacts at major outlets have indicated a very strong interest in
discussing Dr. Shaw's new book, as well as his views on the research.
We will keep you posted with continued updates as we hear about them.