Does listening to music increase intelligence?
Does music increase intelligence?
The relationship between music and how it affects the brain has long been a topic of interest, and with books such as Daniel Levitan’s This is your brain on Music and Oliver Sach’s Musicophelia: Tales of Music and the Brain making the New York best-seller list (for 2007, respectively), interest has piqued.
“The proposed connection between music and intelligence represents a classic case of a simple solution (exposure to music) to a complex problem (enhancing intelligence),” as University of Toronto psychologist Glenn Schellenberg lays down in his paper, which was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology in 2006.
“Does music make you smarter” is a very vague form of a complicated question.
Most experts agree that studying music makes you smarter at music, but can that be applied to general intelligence?
Experts in the field prefer to focus on musical aptitude (the ability to learn music) and musical cognition (the ability to understand music).
Aptitude, cognition and Mozart
Everyone has the ability to learn music, though it isn’t necessarily equally distributed e.g. Child prodigies.
It is debated whether “musical aptitude is inborn or whether it’s a product of some early experience,” Aniruddh Patel, a biologist at San Diego’s Neurosciences Institute points out.
Most (pretty much all) people have the intuitive ability to understand music (musical cognition), whether they have had training or not, your brain still interprets frequencies into sound.
A neuropsychologist from McGill University in Montreal, Robert Zatorre, conducted a test that suggests a noticeable difference in musical cognition between musicians and non-musicians.
For the test, they play a note in a one key and then repeat it in a different key. They then ask whether it’s the same note or not. Unsurprisingly they found that those with musical training were inclined to do better (trained ear, duh) than those without training.
There were also some ‘untrained’ ears that did as well as musicians.
Remember the Mozart Effect? -The fad that swept 90’s parents in a whirlwind, exposing their infants to classical music in order to increase intelligence?
For the study, which was scientifically flimsy, one group listened to Mozart and the other didn’t. They then took IQ tests and those who listened to Mozart scored slightly better.
The crux of it is that just about any mental stimulation before taking a test will produce better results.
The key word here is ‘stimulation’- (spur, inspiration, encouragement)
Listening to/and or making music definitely increases stimulation and lets the dopamine flow (reward), which may help you to concentrate more or remember more thus increasing test scores.
But the real champion in terms of increasing intelligence is practise.
Exercising your mind (through various stimuli) will make you smarter.
Does music increase intelligence? It depends on how you apply it, but maybe not just music specifically. Stimulation does, so why not use music 😉