Mozart Effect: How Music Affects All
We have long used music as a form of entertainment and hobby, and it is difficult to argue that listening to it has no effect on us. Different types of music can influence our moods or evoke nostalgia , but how else might it impact us? There have been numerous studies on the effects of music on humans as well as on plants . One particular theory that has emerged is known as the Mozart Effect. According to this theory, listening to music by Mozart improves an individual’s performance in certain mental tasks in the short-term. Let’s find out to what extent music really does affect us and how.
For most people, music is a combination of rhythms, melodies, and something intangible. We often link music to moods or memories, but what about fetuses and babies? They don’t have memories to link music to, but it definitely does affect them in certain ways too. Even as early as twenty weeks old, babies in the womb can hear sounds and feel sound waves. Researchers have found that unborn babies respond in terms of changes in their heart rate when the mother played music. They also discovered that babies tend to be calmer when listening to classical music and more agitated when rock music was played. While it does help infants to develop their aural sense at an early age, there is very minimal evidence that proves it has a definite impact on their intelligence levels. On the other hand, music holds much more sway over children and teenagers. Listening to heavy or violent music may help them tap into inner turmoil and mood swings, in some cases soothing, while in other cases provoking them by increasing energy levels . Children who are exposed to music early on, specifically those who learn to play an instrument, begin to develop a greater sense of mathematical principles and rhythms, as well as becoming more perceptive about the subtleties of art forms. Many studies have also shown that these children tend to fare better at school and among their peers. In terms of college-level students listening to music before or during a test, some studies have shown improvements, while others have shown no major benefits except in high-anxiety students. However, older adults do greatly benefit from music in many different ways. Music therapy is sometimes used to help alleviate mental as well as physical disorders. For example, although Alzheimer’s patients may forget many things including people in their lives, they often still remember songs, especially those they learned at an early age. For a person going through this illness, it can be extremely disorienting not to be able to remember anything, but music therapy helps to give them some comfort. The same therapy is also used with cancer patients to help relieve physical pain. One of the best known studies on the effects of music on humans was carried out by a neuroscientist in Canada, named Daniel Levitin. His book, This is Your Brain on Music , focuses on the various aspects of music and their individual effects on our brains.
For many years there have been ideas circulating that plants grow better when exposed to classical music instead of rock music. Is it due to the sound frequencies? From high level scientists to elementary students , there have been many experiments done to test this theory. Not everyone has been able to conclusively agree on the results, but overall, most have found that plants grow best in quiet atmospheres. In a close second place, plants exposed to classical music have shown that they thrive in such an environment. Rock music and heavy metal however, tended to have negative effects on plants. Since plants cannot hear music, the overall assumption is that they respond to the frequencies , vibrations or sound energy created by the different types of music. An episode of the television show Mythbusters featured the hosts carrying out an experiment where they calculated the growth of plants that were exposed to music and talking. Their results showed that the theory was plausible.
Scientists have yet to agree on a definite answer on the effects of music on humans and plants. In the case of humans, it is infinitely more difficult since there are so many variable factors to deal with in each person. With plants too, there are some difficulties, especially since plants cannot give immediate feedback in any way. Furthermore, while some people may respond positively to certain types of music, others may respond in an opposite manner, possibly due to linked associations or other factors. This is still an area that scientists and researchers continue to explore to learn more about how our brains are affected by music.