Will listening to Mozart make you smarter?
Marion Simpson investigates an unusual exam aid
If there is an easy way of doing a difficult task we will take it every time. So it is easy to see why the experiments carried out by Rauscher and colleagues in the University of California in 1993 caused such a stir in the popular press.1 They suggested that something as simple as listening to a Mozart piano sonata might improve your aptitude for complex tasks.
The authors based their claims on a series of experiments with 36 college students in which volunteers were subjected to 10 minutes of one of three conditions: silence, a relaxation tape designed to lower blood pressure, or a recording of Mozart's Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos, K448. After this period, participants' spatial reasoning skills were tested using a set of tasks which included pattern analysis and paper folding and cutting. When their performance was translated into IQ scores, the group which