Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Sonata a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University: “A Sonata a Day Keeps the Doctor Away”
Retrieved from: http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11369

Summary: Research on premature babies exposed to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart shows remarkable effects on their weight gain and growth. Dr. Dror Mandel and Dr. Ronit Lubetzky of the Tel Aviv Medical Centre affiliated with the Tel Aviv University’s “Sackler School of Medicine” played 30 minutes of Mozart’s music to pre-term infants, once a day, and found that the babies expended less energy – grew faster – when they listened to Mozart than when they were not listening to anything. The researchers measured energy expenditure in the newborns right after listening, and compared it to the measurements of energy expended while the babies were at rest. The babies expended less energy while hearing the music.
Although nothing was proven scientifically, this initial research on the effects of music on preemies is of outmost importance. Doctors’ main goal is to bring the premature babies to a healthy weight before allowing them to go home (a healthy weight denotes a stronger immune system, less risk of illness; also sooner dismissal means less exposure to infections and illnesses found in hospitals). Since music is shown to help the preemies grow faster, shouldn’t music become a standard practice in hospitals to optimize the health and well-being of babies?
It is unknown why the music of Mozart is soothing to the newborns, but Dr. Mandel’s hypothesis is that “the repetitive melodies in Mozart’s music may be affecting the organizational centres of the brain’s cortex.”

Response: Similar to the controversial research labelled as the “Mozart Effect”, this study on premature babies exposed to the music of Mozart show promising effects of classical music on the human brain. If the music of Mozart, which may be melodically repetitive as suggested by Dr. Mandel, but which is also much more complex than meditation music, or the repetitive “pop” music, has a calming effect over babies, nourishing their bodies in miraculous ways, we can conclude that exposure to music, or more so the study of music, will benefit everyone. Whether or not “music makes you smarter”, we can at least undoubtedly conclude that music, classical music that is, has a therapeutic effect. It would be interesting to see what kind of effect other genres of music have on the premature babies and if classical music (and not only the music of Mozart, which is joyful and underlined by a childish innocence and energy) is the genre most beneficial to our brain, why won’t it become a standard subject in schools, for everyone’s benefit? Alongside sports which nourish the body, why won’t we invest in music to nourish our brain?

1 comment:

Lisa Tahara said...

This article made me smile! Thanks for posting this, Alina.

At first, my thoughts immediately turned to the fact that the researchers were only using the music of Mozart. "Here we go again, another Mozart study." However, it dawned on me that this is a study on premature babies, not college students or even preschool children. With the study done on college and preschool children, if I recall correctly the results showed that the music of Mozart increased the college students' spatial-temporal reasoning skills (temporarily?) and preschool children's arithmetic/reading skills....

I was quite pleasantly surprised to read that the music had a *direct* impact on the energy expended for these babies, thus promoting the babies' growth. This study seems more genuine to me compared to the previous studies done using the music of Mozart because this study is not subject to any bias on the part of the subjects.

My wish for these researchers is that they would try similar studies using different composers, not just Mozart for future research. It would be interesting to find out whether or not it really IS just the music of Mozart, or if it is the rhythmic meter found in music from the classical era, or classical music in general that has an impact on the energy expenditure of premature babies.