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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Pregnancy Health & Fitness

The "Mozart" Effect: How Music Helps Your Baby's Development

by Hannah Chow | May 16, 2015 9:00 AM
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Will Mozart music make your baby smarter? The Mozart effect is a theory originally developed by Alfred A. Tomatis in the 1950s. Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist, claimed that listening to Mozart music in D major while the baby is still in the womb increases your child's intelligence and reasoning skills. Tomatis originally coined the theory as "The Tomatis Method." Later, music researcher, Don Campbell, simplified the theory and named it the "Mozart Effect."

Starting at 18 weeks, babies listening senses are developed to hear sounds that occur outside the womb. Various studies have been conducted to show that playing music while your baby is still in the womb assists in building neural gaps where information can travel easily from the receiving to the reasoning part of the brain.

How Does it Work? Spatial Temporal Reasoning.

The Mozart effect works through spatial temporal reasoning. There are two types of reasoning: spatial temporal reasoning and language analytic reasoning. Each type of reasoning is essential to understanding our thought patterns, reasoning abilities, and creative instincts. Spatial temporal reasoning is more commonly heard within scientific computer circles but also used as a title for neurological navigation of time and space. Douglas Quenqua with The New York Times explains how spatial temporal reasoning works for the education of a child. "A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields," he says.

Why Mozart Music?

Numerous studies have been conducted on high school and college students finding that students who listened to Mozart music before an exam tended to have a higher exam score than students who didn't listen to music at all or students that listened to different genres of music. Although such studies have not been conducted on infants, researchers believe that the same spatial temporal reasoning abilities used for test taking can be improved while a child is still in the womb. Reporters from The Telegraph write, "It is possible that the proposed Mozart effect on the brain is related to the structure of his compositions as Mozart's music tends to repeat the melodic line more frequently." Therefore, Mozart music, specifically in D major, is a repetitive sound that helps to regulate your mood and alleviate stress.

Nikhil Swaminathan with the Scientific American writes, "Mozart Effect conjures an image of a pregnant woman who, sporting headphones over her belly, is convinced that playing classical music to her unborn child will improve the tyke's intelligence." He goes on to say that regardless of numerous scientific communities rejecting the Mozart effect theory, companies like Baby Genius continue to peddle classical music (not just Mozart) to parents of children who can allegedly listen their way to greater intelligence.

Classical Music in General

Not a Mozart fan? No problem. Listening to classical music has been shown to reduce stress and balance your mood. The positive effect that music has on your mood can improve relationships, build self-esteem, and enhance everyday living. Reporters from The Telegraph write, "Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. So listening to classical music may have different effects on the brain than listening to other types of music." This means that classical music has not been proven to but can possibly improve reasoning skills in children and help adults make better decisions in their everyday lives.

For expectant mothers, try placing headphones over your belly and listen to Mozart music along with your little one. Even if your child's intelligence and reasoning skills do not improve (and honestly there is no way of finding out either way), an expectant mother who is stress-free and relaxed is at a lower risk for preterm labor, health issues caused from stress, and pregnancy depression.

There's No Risk, So Try It.

It's not scientifically proven that listening to Mozart music or classical music will make your child smarter. The possibilities are good though. If you enjoy classical music and find it soothing than maybe your baby will find it soothing too. Share the music with your baby. It cannot hurt and there's no risk, so try it. According to Denise Winterman with BBC News Magazine, the Mozart Effect is a theory that is credited with boosting IQ, improving health, strengthening family ties, and even producing the occasional child prodigy.

Not just classical music but any type of music helps to develop your brain. Music helps with memorization, it changes your mood, and it can be calming. While expecting a child, it also helps you bond with your baby. Most mothers want to give their little tykes every opportunity to thrive and succeed in the world, so what's the harm? Try a Mozart effect 21 day challenge. Listen to 15 minutes of Mozart music daily for 21 days. While listening, think positive thoughts and try to relax your senses. If you feel like your cognitive senses and mood has improved by the end of 21 days, keep doing it. Healthy mommy equals healthy baby. Take care of yourself and your baby will reap the rewards.


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