Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Does It Have To Be Mozart's Sonata K.448?

Suda, M., Morimoto, K., Obata, A., Koizumi, H., & Maki, A. (2008). Cortical responses to Mozart's Sonata Enhance Spatial-Reasoning Ability. Neurological Research, 30(9), 885-888.

Summary: In this study, they examined the effects of Mozart’s music on spatial-reasoning ability by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). All participants were university graduates or postgraduates in the age of 25 to 35. The Japanese version of seven original core subtests of the Tanaka B-type intelligence test was used to test the spatial-reasoning ability, as well as the optional topography to show the brain activation. The participants took the 30-minutes test under three different music sessions of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K.448), Beethoven’s Fur Elise, and a silent condition. The result showed that the test scores were higher after the exposure to Mozart’s music than the exposure to Beethoven’s music or silent. Also, the topography of the Mozart group showed dramatic activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and occipital cortex, which is known to be closely related to spatial-reasoning function.

Reflection: The ‘Mozart Makes You Smarter’ has been studied and debated among researchers, but it has not been made clear why Mozart’s music has the specific effect. In the previous studies that used Mozart’s music versus silence showed similar result of higher score in Mozart’s group. My assumption then was that the stabilizing effect of listening to the predictable harmonic patterns of the classical music affected the score. Also, seating in silence for certain amount of time before the test could increase anxiety, which would not help the test result. However, this study was particularly interesting that they used Beethoven’s Fur Elise, which could be more familiar to the participants. The result was rather shocking to me that Beethoven’s music had almost the same result with the silence. Both Beethoven’s and Mozart’s music were from the same period and used same instrumentation. If it is not the familiarity or the predictable pattern, it makes me curious what could be the other factor behind this Mozart’s effect. I will be interested in reading more about the studies that used different music, especially if there is one that used Mozart’s Sonata K.448 versus his other compositions.

1 comment:

George said...

It is interesting to know how classical music can affect the brain activity of your baby, even when he/she is still in the womb. One study indicates that exposing your baby to classical or soothing music may increase his mathematical aptitude. The reason behind this is that the mathematical area of the brain is situated in close proximity of the music centre. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to expose them to these types of music as this may also enhance their development.

[George Melcher]