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Music and Cognition

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Francis Rauscher, Gordon Shaw, and Katherine Ky (1993) wanted to see what the relationship between music cognitions and cognitions related to abstract operations were. They performed an experiment in which students were given three sets of standard IQ spatial reasoning tasks. After each task they either listened to 10mins of Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, K488, 10mins of a relaxation tape, or 10mins of silence. Performance was improved for the tasks immediately after the music condition compared to the other two conditions. 36 college students participated in all three listening conditions. Immediately following each listening condition the student’s special reasoning skills were tested using the Standard-Binet-Intelligence scale. (Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky, 1993). What they found was the students performed better on the tasks immediately after the music condition. For each listening condition they took the mean standard age score (SAS). The SAS for music was 57.56, the SAS for relaxation was 54.61, and the SAS for silence was 54.00. In order to determine the impact of the scores they translated them into spatial IQ scores of 119,111, and 110. This showed the music condition IQ scores were 8-9 points above the other two conditions scores. A one-factor listening condition repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) performed on SAS revealed that subjects performed better on abstract spatial reasoning tests after listening to Mozart than after listening to either relaxation or nothing. Pulse rates were also taken before and after each listening condition to see if arousal had anything to do with the student’s performance on the spatial reasoning tests. There was no interaction or main effect of the results. (Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky, 1993). The researchers concluded that arousal was not related to the performance level of the spatial reasoning tasks. They suggested further research on the subject in different areas. The first was to see if an extended delay period after listening to the music had decay constant. Then they suggested measuring other intelligences, such as verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and short-term memory. They also suggested testing with other musical styles. They predict that the music lacking complexity or is repetitive may interfere with rather than enhance abstract reasoning. They also believe that musicians may process music differently from non-musicians. (Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky, 1993). Two studies were performed out of this study and the idea of the “Mozart Effect” which is that listening to Mozart’s music improves performance on spatial reasoning tasks. The first study conducted by Hope Cassity, Tracy Henley, and Robert Markley (2007) wanted to see if the “Mozart Effect” could be an artifactual consequence of heightened arousal and mood rather than the actual music of Mozart. Which would disprove Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993) theory that arousal does not have an effect on spatial reasoning tasks. They wanted to see if there were performance improvements in a scored computer game that are consistent with the mood and arousal hypothesis. Subjects were obtained from large undergraduate psychology courses at a Texas University. They were first screened for eligibility. The requirements were that they had to have previous experience playing a first-person computer game with a soundtrack but they could not have played the Tony Hawk Pro Skater’s game. They had to be familiar with three-dimensional games and have performed some sort of spatial relations task under competitive pressure with a musical accompaniment. 38 students were eligible 13 male and 25 females distributed randomly into two conditions. The first condition was playing the game while listening to the games original soundtrack Fight like a Brave Man by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The second condition was playing the game while listening to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos k448. The participants did not know that Mozart was not the original default music. After they completed the task they took a 7-point Likert scale to measure music preference. Participants first did the built in tutorial without the music playing to learn all the skateboard moves then they did the first level with the music where the game calculated their scores based on the complexity of the skateboarding tricks they did. They predicted that the students would have better scores from the arousal of playing with their music preference (Cassity, Henley, and Markley, 2007).
The results showed that the mean score fore the original default music was 8982.45 and for the Mozart music which was 5569.44 disproving the Mozart Effect. The results also showed that students performed better when playing while listening to their preferred music choice, which proved the arousal and mood hypothesis (Cassity, Henley, and Markley, 2007).
The second study performed by Vesna Ivanov and John Geake (2003) wanted to see if the Mozart Effect was true for upper primary school-aged children in a natural school setting unlike the other two studies, which were performed in lavatories. Unlike the Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky study this study was listening to the music while doing the tasks instead of before. 76 subjects were used 34 males and 42 females in grades 5 and 6 ranging in ages between 10-12. They were in three different mixed ability classes. The test took place during normal school hours in the subject’s normal classroom. There were three different conditions with 28 students in a prior and concurrent listening to Mozart’s sonata in D major k448 for two pianos, 25 students prior and concurrent listening to Bach’s Toccata in G major, BWV 916 performed on piano, and 23 students listening to the normal background noise. The student’s temporal spatial reasoning ability was measured by an age-normed (age group 10–12 years) PFT (Fitzgerald, 1978). The PFT did not have a time limit. In addition the children’s musical background was taken into account (Ivanov and Geake, 2003). The mean scores calculated on the PFT were 6.29 for the Mozart Class, 6.09 for the Bach class, and 5.09 for the control class. This showed that there was a difference in the performance for spatial reasoning tasks while listening to Mozart. It also showed that the performance levels were very similar while listening to Bach compared to Mozart. A one way ANOVA test showed that musical experience did not have any significant effect and a two way ANOVA test showed that there was not any significant effect on gender. This test showed that the Mozart Effect does work. It also showed that listening to Bach is also effective (Ivanov and Geake, 2003).

References
Cassity, H. D., Henley, T. B., Markley, R. P. (2007) The Mozart effect: Musical phenomenon or musical preference? A more ecologically valid reconsideration.
Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34, 13-17.
Ivanov, V. K., and Geake, J. G. (2003). The Mozart Effect and primary school children. Psychology of Music, 31, 405-413.
Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., and Ky, K. N. (1993). Music and Spatial Task Performance.
Science, 365, 611

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