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Exposure to music and cognitive performance: Tests of children and adults

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Abstract

This article reports on two experiments of exposure to music and cognitive performance. In Experiment 1, Canadian undergraduates performed better on an IQ subtest (Symbol Search) after listening to an up-tempo piece of music composed by Mozart in comparison to a slow piece by Albinoni. The effect was evident, however, only when the two pieces also induced reliable differences in arousal and mood. In Experiment 2, Japanese 5-year-olds drew for longer periods of time after singing or hearing familiar children’s songs than after hearing Mozart or Albinoni, and their drawings were judged by adults to be more creative, energetic, and technically proficient. These results indicate that (1) exposure to different types of music can enhance performance on a variety of cognitive tests, (2) these effects are mediated by changes in emotional state, and (3) the effects generalize across cultures and age groups.
Exposure to music and
cognitive performance:
tests of children and adults
5
ARTICLE
Psychology of Music
Psychology of Music
Copyright © 2007
Society for Education, Music
and Psychology Research
vol 35(1): 5‒19 [0305-7356
(200701) 35:1; 5‒19]
10.1177⁄0305735607068885
http://pom.sagepub.com
E. GLENN SCHELLENBERG
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, CANADA
TAKAYUKI NAKATA
NAGASAKI JUNSHIN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, JAPAN
PATRICK G. HUNTER
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, CANADA
SACHIKO TAMOTO
NAGASAKI JUNSHIN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, JAPAN
ABSTRACT This article reports on two experiments of exposure to music and
cognitive performance. In Experiment 1, Canadian undergraduates performed
better on an IQ subtest (Symbol Search) after listening to an up-tempo piece of
music composed by Mozart in comparison to a slow piece by Albinoni. The effect
was evident, however, only when the two pieces also induced reliable differences
in arousal and mood. In Experiment 2, Japanese 5-year-olds drew for longer
periods of time after singing or hearing familiar children’s songs than after
hearing Mozart or Albinoni, and their drawings were judged by adults to be more
creative, energetic, and technically proficient. These results indicate that (1)
exposure to different types of music can enhance performance on a variety of
cognitive tests, (2) these effects are mediated by changes in emotional state, and
(3) the effects generalize across cultures and age groups.
KEYWORDS: cognition and emotion, cognitive ability, intellectual ability, Mozart
effect, music and cognition, music listening
The impact of music on listeners’ emotional state is well documented (e.g.
Gabrielsson, 2001; Husain et al., 2002; Krumhansl, 1997; Peretz, 2001;
Schmidt and Trainor, 2001; Sloboda and Juslin, 2001; Thayer and Levenson,
1983; Thompson et al., 2001), as is the effect of emotional state on
participants’ performance on a wide variety of cognitive measures.
According to Russell’s (1980) circumplex model of emotions, emotions vary
in two-dimensional space, with one dimension corresponding to arousal (or
activation) and the other to mood (or valence). Arousal refers to degree of
physical and psychological activation or to the intensity of the felt emotion,
whereas mood indicates whether the emotion is positive or negative. Both
arousal (Anderson and Bushman, 2001; Cahill and McGaugh, 1998;
Caldwell et al., 2004; Cassady and Johnson, 2002; Dutton and Carroll, 2001;
sempre
:
Husain et al., 2002; Lyvers et al., 2004; Thompson et al., 2001) and mood
(Grawitch et al., 2003; Husain et al., 2002; Isen et al., 1992; Khan and Isen,
1993; Thompson et al., 2001; for reviews see Ashby et al., 1999; Eich and
Forgas, 2003; Isen, 1999) have robust effects on cognition.
The arousal and mood hypothesis (Thompson et al., 2001) proposes that
when music listening affects cognitive abilities, such effects can be attributed
to changes in listeners’ arousal or mood (see also Hallam et al., 2002).
Whereas musical tempo seems to be associated primarily with arousal (i.e.
faster tempi are more arousing than slower tempi), musical mode is a better
predictor of mood (i.e. major and minor modes evoke happiness and sadness,
respectively; Husain et al., 2002). Associations linking tempo and arousal to
cognition are likely to be more robust than those linking mode and mood to
cognition. Tempo varies continuously and infinitely (at least in principle),
whereas mode is dichotomous. Effects of tempo on emotional evaluations of
music also emerge earlier in development than those of mode (Dalla Bella et
al., 2001). Moreover, tempo variations are universal, whereas the major–
minor distinction is specific to Western music. As such, listeners can use
tempo (but not mode) to decode the emotions conveyed by music from foreign
cultures (Balkwill and Thompson, 1999; Balkwill et al., 2004).
The arousal and mood hypothesis provides a framework for understanding
and explaining the so-called ‘Mozart effect’. The effect refers to enhanced
performance on spatial–temporal measures after listening to music composed
by Mozart compared to control conditions that involve sitting in silence or
listening to relaxation instructions (Rauscher et al., 1993). The authors
(Rauscher and Shaw, 1998; Rauscher et al., 1995) explain the effect as a
consequence of cross-modal priming between unrelated domains (i.e. music
composed by Mozart and spatial–temporal abilities; for a review see Hetland,
2000), a claim that is at odds with the priming and neuropsychological
literatures (Schellenberg, 2003). By contrast, the arousal and mood
hypothesis posits that the Mozart effect is neither specific to music in general
(let alone Mozart in particular), nor to tests that measure spatial–temporal
abilities (i.e. those ‘involving mental imagery and temporal ordering’,
Rauscher, 1999: 827).
In line with this perspective, ‘Bach’ (Ivanov and Geake, 2003), ‘Schubert’
(Nantais and Schellenberg, 1999), and ‘Yanni’ (Rideout et al., 1998) ‘effects’
have also been reported. Moreover, when listening to Mozart is compared
with an engaging but nonmusical auditory stimulus (e.g. a narrated story),
the effect disappears (Nantais and Schellenberg, 1999). Rather, participants
perform better on a cognitive test after listening to their preferred stimulus
(Mozart or story). When the comparison condition involves listening to
Albinoni’s Adagio (a slow, minor key piece often played at funerals), the
Mozart advantage on a subsequent cognitive test proves to be a consequence
of changes in listeners’ arousal levels and mood (Thompson et al., 2001). The
Mozart sonata used in most experiments (e.g. Husain et al., 2002; Nantais
6Psychology of Music 35(1)
and Schellenberg, 1999; Rauscher et al., 1993, 1995; Steele, Bass et al.,
1999; Thompson et al., 2001) is a relatively fast-tempo piece in a major key.
The present investigation provided further tests of the arousal and mood
hypothesis and its ability to account for the Mozart effect. In two experiments,
we examined whether beneficial side effects of music listening on cognition
extend to tests that do not measure spatial–temporal abilities. In Experiment
1, Canadian adults completed one of two subtests from the Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale–Third Edition (WAIS-III, Wechsler, 1997) after listening to
the Mozart or Albinoni pieces used by Thompson et al. (2001). One subtest
was a speeded test of pattern-matching abilities, the other a test of working
memory. The tempo (fast) and mode (major) of the Mozart piece were likely to
make it more arousing and pleasant than listening to Albinoni (Husain et al.,
2002; Thompson et al., 2001). According to the arousal and mood
hypothesis, if the pieces evoke differential emotional responding (i.e. in
arousal and/or mood), we should also find evidence of a Mozart advantage
on one or both of the IQ subtests.
In Experiment 2, we tested the creative abilities of Japanese 5-year-olds
after they were exposed to classical music (Mozart or Albinoni) or to familiar
children’s music (listening or singing). Our goals were to test three predic-
tions motivated by the arousal and mood hypothesis. One was to examine
whether effects of exposure to music on cognition generalize to listeners from
a different culture and age group. The second goal was to examine whether
such effects would generalize to tests of creativity. Although creativity is
typically considered to be an aspect of complex cognition (e.g. Sternberg and
Ben-Zeev, 2001), our measures of creativity differed markedly from IQ
subtests (e.g. the WAIS-III subtests used in Experiment 1, the paper-folding-
and-cutting subtest from the Stanford-Binet IQ test used in previous
research). The third goal was to examine the specific type of musical
experiences that enhance cognition. We assumed that songs written
specifically for young children would be more likely than classical music to be
optimally arousing and pleasant for this age group, and that singing familiar
children’s music might be as effective as listening in this regard. Thus, we
expected that the best performance on the creativity measures would follow
exposure to familiar children’s music.
Experiment 1
Experiment 1 was similar in design to that of Thompson et al. (2001) except
that the cognitive tests did not measure spatial–temporal abilities. Under-
graduates listened to music composed by Mozart or Albinoni and
subsequently completed one of two IQ subtests. Arousal and mood were
measured before and after music listening.
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 7
METHOD
Participants
Forty-eight Canadian undergraduates (77% women) who were registered in
an introductory psychology course participated in exchange for partial
course credit. The students were young adults 18 to 23 years of age from a
variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds (European: 54%; East Asian:
15%; Hispanic: 13%; South Asian: 11%; African: 4%; Middle Eastern: 2%)
that mirrored the make-up of the local community.
Apparatus, stimuli, and measures
Participants were tested in a sound-attenuating booth. They wore high-
quality stereophonic headphones (SONY MDR-P1) while sitting in front of an
iMac computer. The music consisted of 10 minutes of an up-tempo piece
played in a major key (Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K 448), or 10
minutes of a slow piece written in a minor key (Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor
for Strings and Organ). The music was excerpted from commercial recordings
available on compact disk and stored digitally as CD-quality sound files.
Arousal and mood were measured with the Profile of Mood States – Short
Form (POMS; McNair et al., 1992). The scale has six subscales; as in Thompson
et al. (2001), our interest was limited to two of these (Vigor–Activity – a
measure of arousal, and Depression–Dejection – a measure of negative mood).
The cognitive tasks were two subtests from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence
Scale – Third Edition (WAIS-III; Wechsler, 1997). They were selected because
both could be adapted easily for computer presentation but neither measured
spatial–temporal (nor spatial) abilities. One was Symbol Search, a speeded
pattern-matching task that is one of two subtests used to derive the
Processing Speed index score of the WAIS-III. Respondents were asked to
complete as many items as possible within 2 minutes. For each item, they
identified (i.e. YES or NO) whether either of two target symbols (on the left
side of the monitor) was present in a horizontal array of five symbols (on the
right side). The number of correct responses minus the number of incorrect
responses was converted to a standard score that is normed according to age
(M= 10, SD = 3).
The other subtest was Letter–Number Sequencing, one of three subtests
that form the Working Memory index score of the WAIS-III. On each trial,
participants saw an alternating sequence of letters and numbers presented in
the center of the monitor (one per second). Their task was to recall the
sequence by typing it in a rearranged order: the numbers in ascending order
followed by the letters in alphabetical order. For example, if the sequence was
R-6-B-3, the correct response was 3-6-B-R. The task became progressively
harder, with the easiest level having two items on each of three trials and the
most difficult level having eight items. The number of correct responses
(excluding those made after the participant had three errors on a single level)
was converted to a standard, age-normed score (M= 10, SD = 3).
8Psychology of Music 35(1)
Procedure
Participants were tested individually on two occasions separated by no more
than one week. On each occasion, they completed a paper-and-pencil version
of the POMS. They then entered the booth where they heard 10 minutes of
music, followed immediately by one of the two cognitive tests. After exiting
the booth, they completed the POMS again.
The music was the Mozart piece on one occasion and the Albinoni piece
on the other. The cognitive task was Symbol Search on one occasion and
Letter–Number Sequencing on the other. Music order (Mozart then Albinoni
or vice versa) and test order (Symbol Search then Letter–Number Sequencing
or vice versa) were counterbalanced.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The first set of analyses examined changes in arousal and mood as a function
of music listening (Mozart or Albinoni). We used one-tailed tests because we
had specific, directional hypotheses that were supported by the results of a
previous study (Thompson et al., 2001). Difference scores (post-music minus
pre-music) were calculated separately for the Vigor–Activity (arousal) and
Depression–Dejection (mood) subtests, and for the first and second test
sessions (see Figure 1). Independent-samples t-tests revealed that the mood
measure exhibited a small but reliable difference due to music listening at the
first test session, t(46) = 1.89, p= .033, η2= .07. As shown in Figure 1,
Depression–Dejection scores increased after listening to Albinoni but
decreased after listening to Mozart. There was no effect of music listening on
arousal during the first session (see Figure 1; Vigor–Activity scores decreased
in both conditions). Perhaps the unfamiliarity of the testing environment
interfered with effects of the music manipulation on arousal in this instance.
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 9
FIGURE 1Mean difference scores on the arousal and mood measures in Experiment 1.
Vigor–Activity Depression– Vigor–Activity Depression–
Dejection Dejection
First session Second session
Notes
*Significant effect of music listening (one-tailed tests).
Error bars are standard errors.
Mozart
Albinoni
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
–0.5
–1
–1.5
–2
Mean difference score
At the second test session, both the mood measure, t(46) = 1.75, p= .043,
η2= .06, and the arousal measure, t(46) = 2.77, p= .004, η2= .14, varied
reliably as a function of the different music-listening experiences. Depression–
Dejection scores increased after listening to Albinoni but decreased after
Mozart, whereas Vigor–Activity scores increased as a consequence of
listening to Mozart but decreased after Albinoni (see Figure 1).
The next set of analyses examined scores on the IQ subtests as a function
of music listening (see Figure 2). Because arousal and mood differed at the
second session but only mood varied reliably at the first session, cognitive
differences between conditions were expected to be stronger at the second
session compared to the first. Indeed, neither Symbol Search nor Letter–
Number Sequencing scores varied as a function of music listening at the first
session. At the second session, Symbol Search scores were higher after
listening to Mozart than after listening to Albinoni, t(22) = 2.75, p= .012
(two-tailed), η2= .26, but there was no effect for Letter–Number Sequencing.
A previous study (Steele et al., 1997) also found that there was no
enhancement of working memory after participants listened to Mozart.
In sum, when differences in arousal and mood were evident as a
consequence of music listening (second session), a reliable difference on one
of two IQ subtests was also evident. When there was only a small difference
in mood but no effect on arousal (first session), there were no differences in
cognitive abilities. These findings have important ramifications for the
arousal and mood hypothesis. First, they suggest that subtle contextual
differences may moderate effects of music listening on arousal more than on
mood. They also indicate that some cognitive tests may be more susceptible
10 Psychology of Music 35(1)
FIGURE 2Mean standard scores on the IQ subtests in Experiment 1.
Symbol Letter–Number Symbol Letter–Number
Search Sequencing Search Sequencing
First session Second session
Notes:
*Significant effect of music listening (two-tailed test).
Error bars are standard errors.
Mozart
Albinoni
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
Mean score
than others to influences of arousal and mood. Finally, they provide evidence
that cognitive byproducts of music listening depend more on arousal than on
mood, as suggested earlier. Alternatively, such byproducts may be more likely
when music listening evokes simultaneous changes in arousal and mood
rather than a change in either arousal or mood.
Experiment 2
In Experiment 2, the participants were 5-year-old Japanese children and the
outcome variables were measures of creativity. At an initial session to establish
baseline measures of creativity, each child was asked to make a drawing. After
a musical experience, the children made a second drawing. Two groups of
children drew after listening to the Mozart or the Albinoni piece used in
Experiment 1. A third group heard familiar children’s songs before they drew.
A fourth group sang familiar songs before drawing. The outcome measures
included drawing times and adults’ ratings of creativity, energy, and technical
proficiency for the children’s drawings (see Loveland and Olley, 1979).
Although there is no self-report measure of arousal and mood that can be
used with young children, the results of Experiment 1 and earlier studies made
it relatively safe to assume that any observed links between music listening
and cognition would be mediated by arousal and mood.
METHOD
Participants
The participants were 39 5-year-old Japanese children (13 boys, 26 girls)
from two kindergarten classes. An additional three children were recruited
but excluded from the final sample because of lack of interest in the drawing
task (n= 2) or conflict with another child (n= 1). A subgroup of 9 to 11
children was selected randomly to draw after they had listened to Mozart (n=
11), Albinoni (n= 10), or familiar children’s songs (n= 9), or after they had
sung familiar songs (n= 9). Eighteen female undergraduates – who were
blind to group membership – volunteered to rate the children’s drawings.
Apparatus, stimuli, and measures
The children were tested in classrooms at the kindergarten they attended. In
two of the listening sessions, the recorded music consisted of one of the two
pieces from Experiment 1 (Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ;
Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K 448 – a different recording of the
same piece). In the familiar-listening session, the music comprised 16
children’s songs from commercially available recordings (see Table 1) that the
children had learned to sing at school. The children’s songs had Japanese
lyrics but they were all in Western major keys with a regular metrical
structure. Two of these 16 songs were sung by the children in the familiar-
singing session (see Table 1).
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 11
TABLE 1Children’s songs used in the familiar-listening session in Experiment 2
(English translation in parentheses)
Ashita-wa-hareru (Tomorrow will be a fine day)*
Yakiimo-no-uta (Baked potato song)*
Panda, usagi, koala (Panda, rabbit, koala)
Hoshi-no-Carnival (Carnival of the stars)
Fushigi-na-pocket (Mysterious pocket)
Kobutanukitsuneko (Little pig, raccoon, dog, fox, and cat)
Kon-kon-kushan-no-uta (Sneezing song)
Ookina kuni-no kino shita de (Under a tree in a big country)
Zo-san (Elephant)
Ice cream no uta (Ice cream song)
Tyoo-tyo (Butterfly)
Tulip (Tulip)
Koinobori (A carp streamer)
Tombo-no-megane (Dragonfly’s glasses)
Matsu bokkuri (A pinecone)
Donguri-korokoro (Acorns rolling down)
*Songs used in the familiar-singing condition.
Recordings were played on a portable CD player (AIWA CSDSR520) at a
comfortable volume. A piano was used to accompany the children when they
sang. Drawing times were measured with a handheld stopwatch.
Procedure
Each child made an initial baseline drawing that did not follow a musical
experience, and a second drawing after one of the four musical experiences.
An assistant recorded drawing times in both sessions. In the initial (baseline)
session, children were provided with paper and 18 crayons after having
lunch with their classmates (no music). They were asked to draw anything
they wanted. Music sessions were scheduled subsequently, each separated by
2 or 3 days.
After each music session, a subset of children was selected randomly to
draw for a second time. In the first session, children heard the Mozart piece
presented repeatedly for an hour while they ate lunch with their classmates.
In the second session, children heard Albinoni for an hour during lunch. In
the third session, one of the two kindergarten classes sang two familiar songs
for 20 minutes after lunch while a teacher provided piano accompaniment
and an experimenter (the fourth author) sang along. The other class heard
16 children’s songs for an hour during lunchtime in the third session, and
sang two familiar songs in a fourth session.
The adult raters were required to compare the two drawings (baseline and
12 Psychology of Music 35(1)
music) from each child on each of three different scales (creativity, energy,
and technical proficiency). For each scale, the rater was asked to provide a
rating of 1 if the drawing on their left was substantially more creative (or
energetic or technically proficient) than the one on their right, and a rating of
6 if the drawing on their right was substantially more creative (or energetic
or technically proficient). Hence, the ratings were difference (or comparison)
scores. Picture location (baseline/left-music/right or vice versa) and order of
the 39 children’s drawings were randomized separately for each rater.
Ratings were reverse coded when the music drawing was on the left so that
ratings were comparable across children and raters, with higher numbers
representing higher ratings for the music drawing compared to baseline.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
For each outcome measure, the principal analytic strategy was to compare
the four groups of children with analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by
planned orthogonal contrasts (classical vs familiar music, listening to
fast–major vs slow–minor classical music, singing vs listening to familiar
music). The first set of analyses examined drawing times. For each child, we
calculated a difference score (music condition minus baseline, see Figure 3).
Preliminary one-sample t-tests revealed that drawing times increased reliably
from baseline after listening to familiar music, t(8) = 3.99, p= .004, and after
singing familiar music, t(8) = 7.56, p< .001. Drawing times did not increase
for children who heard Albinoni or Mozart. Time spent drawing varied
reliably across conditions, F(3, 35) = 4.59, p= .008, η2= .28, with greater
increases in the two familiar-music conditions than in the two classical-music
conditions, F(1, 35) = 8.55, p= .006. The two familiar-music conditions did
not differ, nor did the two classical-music conditions.
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 13
Note: Error bars are standard errors.
FIGURE 3Mean increase in drawing times in Experiment 2.
Mozart Albinoni Familiar Familiar
listening singing
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
Mean increase(s)
The next set of analyses examined adults’ ratings of the children’s
drawings (see Figure 4). For each adult, four creativity scores were formed,
each representing the average rating calculated separately for each of the
four groups of children. Four energy scores and four technical proficiency
scores were formed identically. Creativity ratings varied across the four
conditions, F(3, 51) = 19.27, p< .001, η2= .53, as did energy ratings, F(3,
51) = 25.59, p< .001, η2= .60, and technical proficiency ratings, F(3, 51) =
13.47, p< .001, η2= .44. In each case, ratings were higher for drawings
from the familiar-music compared to the classical-music conditions, as
predicted (for creativity, energy, and technical proficiency, respectively,
Fs(1, 17) = 42.58, 78.57, and 37.13, ps < .001). An advantage for Mozart
over Albinoni was also evident for creativity ratings, F(1, 17) = 6.34, p=
.022; the same advantage was marginal for energy ratings (p= .063) but
non-significant for technical proficiency ratings. Presumably, when evident,
the Mozart advantage was a consequence of its faster tempo. The two
familiar-music conditions did not differ on any of the three rating scales.
In sum, compared to children who drew after hearing Mozart or Albinoni,
children exposed to familiar songs had longer increases in drawing times
relative to baseline. Moreover, their post-music drawings were considered by
adults to be more creative, energetic, and technically proficient. The results
also indicated that listening to familiar songs and singing them are similarly
effective in enhancing creativity among young children.
14 Psychology of Music 35(1)
Creativity Energy Technical Proficiency
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
Mean Adult Rating
Mozart
Albinoni
Familiar Listening
Familiar Singing
Notes
Error bars are standard errors.
Scores above or below the scale midpoint (3.5) indicate higher ratings for the music or baseline
drawings, respectively.
FIGURE 4Mean creativity, energy, and technical proficiency ratings made by adults of the
children’s drawings in Experiment 2.
Mozart
Albinoni
Familiar listening
Familiar singing
Mean adult rating
Creativity Energy Technical proficiency
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
General discussion
In these two experiments, we found evidence that effects of music listening
extend beyond measures of spatial–temporal ability. In Experiment 1,
Canadian adults listened to music composed by Mozart or Albinoni and
subsequently completed an IQ subtest. When the listening experience led to a
difference in arousal and mood (favouring Mozart), a parallel difference on
an IQ subtest was also evident (favouring Mozart). These findings are
consistent with the proposal that music-enhanced cognitive performance is a
byproduct of arousal and mood. They also refute suggestions of a special link
between listening to Mozart and spatial–temporal abilities. Although the
results indicate that some cognitive tests are more influenced by exposure to
music than others, spatial–temporal status is not a prerequisite for such
effects to emerge.
The results of Experiment 2 indicated that cognitive enhancement after
music listening extends to tests of creativity, and that such enhancement
depends on the match between the music and the listener. Specifically,
Japanese 5-year-olds were asked to make drawings either after listening to
classical music or after hearing or singing familiar children’s songs. Each
measure of creativity (i.e. drawing times; adults’ ratings of creativity, energy,
and technical proficiency) revealed better performance after the familiar
songs compared to the classical recordings. In other words, cognitive effects
of exposure to music extended to young Asian children and tests of creativity,
and generalized across modality of exposure.
The present findings help to explain previous failures to replicate the
Mozart effect (e.g. Carstens et al., 1995; Hallam, 2000; McCutcheon, 2000;
McKelvie and Low, 2002; Newman et al., 1995; Steele et al., 1997; Steele,
Bass et al., 1999; Steele, Brown et al., 1999; Steele, Dalla Bella et al., 1999;
Stough et al., 1994), which are as common as successes (e.g. Husain et al.,
2002; Ivanov and Geake, 2003; Nantais and Schellenberg, 1999; Rauscher
et al., 1993, 1995; Rideout et al., 1998; Rideout and Taylor, 1997;
Thompson et al., 2001; Wilson and Brown, 1997; for reviews, see Chabris,
1999; Hetland, 2000). First, our results suggest that the effect is somewhat
ephemeral. In Experiment 1, music listening led to reliable differences in
arousal, mood, and cognitive performance on participants’ second visit to the
laboratory; only mood differences were evident on their first visit. Second, in
many studies (e.g. Steele, Dalla Bella et al., 1999), undergraduates are tested
as groups in classroom settings, where interpersonal dynamics could play a
role while students are listening to Mozart or sitting in silence. Specifically,
these dynamics (e.g. students rolling their eyes, giggling) could influence the
emotional state of the participants directly, or interfere with changes in state
that might otherwise result from music listening. Third, in McKelvie and
Low’s (2002) study of 12-year-olds (see also Hallam, 2000), the lack of an
effect of listening to Mozart on a spatial–temporal task may have stemmed
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 15
from the music and task – both less than ideal for this age group. In some
instances, relatively fast-tempo classical music may indeed be more
emotionally stimulating for children than slow music (Experiment 2) or
silence (Ivanov and Gleake, 2003), but our results indicate that age-
appropriate music is more effective in this regard.
To conclude, there is no merit to the claim of a link between listening to
music composed by Mozart to the exclusion of music by other composers,
and spatial–temporal abilities to the exclusion of other cognitive abilities.
Similar effects are generated by other forms of music (as well as nonmusical
stimuli), and the effects can be explained by mediating effects of arousal and
mood. The present findings clarify that such effects extend to cognitive tests
without spatial–temporal status, and across participants who differ in age
and cultural background. The Mozart effect is simply one example of the
many ways that emotional state influences cognitive processing.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We
thank Umi class at Aokata kindergarten for their cooperation and participation,
Sandra Trehub for thoughtful advice, and Toshiko Nakamura, Kinuyo Mori, Junko
Yoshida, Miki Hamada, Kana Matsuo, and Emi Terada for assistance with data
collection.
RECORDINGS USED IN THE EXPERIMENTS
Albinoni, Tomaso Giovanni Adagio in G Minor for Organ and Strings. Recorded by
Philharmonie, Berlin, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. On Adagio-Karajan [CD].
Tokyo: Deutsch Grammophon – Polydor (1995).
Mozart, Wolfang Amadeus Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 (K. 375a).
Recorded by Murray Parahia and Radu Lupu. On Music for Piano, Four Hands [CD].
London: Sony Classical (1992).
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 (K. 375a).
Recorded by Martha Argerich and Alexandre Rabinovitch. On Mozart Sonatas
[CD]. Tokyo: Warner Music Japan (1994).
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E. GLENN SCHELLENBERG obtained his doctorate in psychology from Cornell
University. He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto.
Address: Department of Psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga,
Mississauga, ON, Canada, L5L 1C6. [email: g.schellenberg@utoronto.ca]
TAKAYUKI NAKATA completed doctoral studies in psychology at Texas Christian
University and postdoctoral studies at the University of Toronto. Currently, he is
Associate Professor of Psychology at Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University in Japan.
Address: Department of Psychology, Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University, 235
Mitsuyama-machi, Nagasaka-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 852-8559, Japan. [email:
nakatata93@ybb.ne.jp]
PATRICK G. HUNTER obtained his master’s degree from the University of Toronto,
where he is currently completing doctoral studies in psychology.
Address: as E. Glenn Schellenberg. [email: patrick@psych.utoronto.ca]
SACHIKO TAMOTO is currently a master’s student in clinical psychology at Nagasaki
Junshin Catholic University in Japan, where she received her bachelor’s degree in
psychology.
Address: 1542-8 Aokata-go, Shinkamigoto-cho, Minamimatsuura-gun, Nagasaki-
ken, 857-4404, Japan. [email: tamoring148@diary.ocn.ne.jp]
Schellenberg et al.: Exposure to music and cognition 19
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