Scientific Correspondence

Nature 400, 827 (26 August 1999) | doi:10.1038/23611

Prelude or requiem for the 'Mozart effect'?

Kenneth M. Steele1, Simone Dalla Bella2, Isabelle Peretz2, Tracey Dunlop3, Lloyd A. Dawe3, G. Keith Humphrey3, Roberta A. Shannon1, Johnny L. Kirby, Jr1 & C. G. Olmstead1

Rauscher et al. reported1 that brief exposure to a Mozart piano sonata produces a temporary increase in spatial reasoning scores, amounting to the equivalent of 8-9 IQ points on the Stanford-Binet IQ scale2. Early attempts to confirm this 'Mozart effect' were unsuccessful3, 4, 5, 6. Rauscher et al. subsequently restricted their account to an improvement in spatial-temporal reasoning, as measured by the Paper Folding and Cutting task7. We use procedures modelled on the original report to show that there is little evidence for a direct effect of music exposure on reasoning ability.

  1. Department of Psychology, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina 28608, USA
  2. Département de Psychologie, Université de Montréal, CP 6128, succ. centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada
  3. Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada