In 1993, Rauscher et al. and Gordon L.Shaw put forward a hypothesis that there is a certain relation between musicand spatial ability, then they carried out an experiment. Thirty-six studentsof non-music majors were divided into three groups, and listen to three typesof music respectively: Mozart piano sonata, popular music, and music withoutany stimulation. After ten minutes, they found that students who listenedMozart piano sonata scored eight to nine points higher than the other groups ofstudents who listened popular music and music without any stimulation on aspatial IQ test. They called this phenomenon as “Mozart Effect”. Inthe following years, a series of studies have also reported that spatial skillsmight be improved by experiencing the Mozart Effect. In 1997, Rauscher et al.
outlinedthat by given six months of piano instruction to pre-school children, theyshowed noteworthy changes that their spatial skills have been enhanced.Rauscher et al., Jens and Robinson reported that with listening the Mozartsonata, even rats showed improvement on maze learning. In 1999, Graziano et al.gave a report that children who have been given music and spatial traininglessons, showed improvement on their math skills. Another finding byHetland(2000) reported that after the termination of music lessons, childrenimproved their spatial skills which lasting more than two years.
Jausovec andHabe(2005) outlined that listening to a Mozart sonata and a piece by Philipalso make improvement on the performance of a series of spatial tasks but showlittle improvement on their performance on number tasks of study participants.More research was founded that when study participants listening to the Mozartsonata, brain waves were changed in the direction of greater cortical activity.It also concluded that spatial cognitive skills were improved scientifically whetherthe duration of listening or playing music is long or short, especially, resultin the Mozart music.
Therefore, educators and the public showed tremendousinterest on Mozart Effect. For the better brain development of the newborns,Zell miller, the govern of Georgia, asked $105,000 for providing a tape ofclassical music to each of 100,000 newborns in Georgia (Gavin,2000). A small CDindustry also declared that by the exposure of listening to classical music,mental improvement occurred (Rauscher,2002). Even the politicians think that listening to Mozart sonata can make humanbecame smarter which extending the findings of the researchers, ME begin tospread widely through the world. Upto now, ME have been recommending for the improvement of learning classroom.(Armstrong, 1994; Campbell, 2000; Gardner, 2004; Glennon, 2000; Rettig, 2005),and have been applied in classroom activities (Elksnin & Elksnin, 2003;Graziano, Peterson, & Shaw, 1999; Hoerr, 2003). From a research table belowshowed that the number of Google TM-accessed ME .edu Web sites from 1,082 increasedto 12,700 Between June 1, 2003 and December 1, 2005, and the Pubmed database accessed professional journalarticles for ME, from 33 increased to 41.
Moreover, the number of educationworkshops of ME has also been increased. Google TM site: edu workshops which identifiedfor ME showed an increment of 124 to 192 in the six-month period between June1, 2005 and December 1, 2005. As we can see from the database, the ME theoryhave been used in education widely. However, in my opinion, ME theory is lackedof empirical support and even there are evidences showed some contradicts anddisconfirms on ME by other theories and researches. Firstly, thereare no evidence for the ME to stated that major improvement of cognitive skillcan occured by the absent of the first two memory enhancement processes, whichis the repetition of cognitive skill and the excitement related to the skillactivity, are important to learning. As the Cognitive neuroscience researchclaimed what students typically learned in a classroom are more likely rely onthe amalgamation of the additional enhancement of procedural skill memory for sequencesof behaviors and the declarative content memory for knowledge.
For instance, studentsshould know how to write words as well as knowing why water is important andnecessary for human life. (Eichenbaum, 2004; Willingham, 1998). Besides, thereare six processes which affect the founding of long-term procedural anddeclarative memory according to the Cognitive neuroscience research. The sixprocesses are as follow: 1.Repetition of the procedure or imfomation (Squire& Kandel, 2000; Wickelgren, 1981), 2.Excitation at the time of learning(LeDoux, 2002; McGaugh, 2004; Phelps, 2006), 3.Connection of reward with thematerial to be learned (Wise, 2004), 4.Eating some carbohydrates before orduring learning (Korol, 2002; Rampersaud, Pereira, Girard, Ad- ams, &Metzl, 2005), 5.
Enough sleep after a learning period (Walker & Stickgold,2006),6. Escaping of drugs of abuse and alcohol (Grant, Gonzalez, Carey,Natarajan, & Wolfson, 2003; Marinkovic, Halgren, & Maltzman, 2004).Despite of research by Walker & Stickgold in 2006, reported that theprocess of con-solidating long-term memory occurs when we sleep, and theresearch by Yi & Chun in 2005 reported that some learning still arises outof central attention when we are attending to other to other tasks deliberately,we can easily found that ME does not attend the first two memory enhancementprocess which is crucial for the cognitive skills. Moreover, Wickelgren (1981)made a conclusion in his review of research on human learning and state that”practice makes perfect,” “learning curves are almost always continuousincremental functions of study time” (p.
38). In other word, it is importantfor spening time on repetition for learning. According to the neurobiology andpsychology of learning, Squire and Kandel (2000) found and concluded that “thenumber of times the event or fact is repeated” and “the extent to which werehearse the material after it has first been presented” is the main reasonswhich cause the improvement of procedural skills and the enhancement of contentmemories. (p. 71). James and Gauthier also stated that by the followingrepetition and time-shifted which increase related brain activation, learningwill be improved. A.
Martin and Gottsin 2005, also outlined that despite of the improvement of object identificationwith repetition of images on the object, object learning was damaged when one’sfrontal lobe activity was interrupted during the repetitions. It is clearlythat repetition induces learning and it is one of the important factor oflearning. However, ME only stated that the improvements on spatial skills ofchildren, adults and even rats after having music experience, but there are exclusiveof repetition of the spatial material, it makes conflict with the currentcognitive neuroscience understanding in terms of the basis of skillimprovement.
In addition, excitement induces learning. It is said that byinfluencing the period of neurobiological activity positively which calledconsolidation will creates a memory in the brain, and the emotional arousalenriches memory formation (McGaugh, 2004; Phelps, 2006). An outline by LeDouxin 2002 stated that we “remember particularly well .
.. those things that arouseour emotions” and the enhancement of emotional excitation produced by hormonesand amygdala activity will reinforces both conscious and nonconscious memoryformation (p. 222). In 2003, Cahill, Gorski, and Le made a report whichevidenced that human memory consolidation will be enhanced by the increasingepinephrine of human cortical arousal. McGaugh also have a review by the researchon the brain basis of emotion and memory, he sums up that “emotionallysignificant experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant, activate hormonal andbrain systems” through which “our emotionally exciting experiences be- comewell remembered” in 2004 (p.
18). All the researches and statements aboveindicated that the ME theory is controvertible in terms of the currentcognitive neuroscience understanding of the basis of skill improvement. Secondly, there are evidences which has beenreported stated that ME works may due to the result of positive emotionalarousal of study participants (Husain, Thompson, & Schellenberg, 2002;Jausovec & Habe, 2005; Thompson, Schellenberg, & Husain, 2001). Thompsonet al. conducted a study which tested the spatial abilities of studyparticipant in terms of three conditions: After they sat in silence, after theylistened to a brisk upbeat Mozart sonata and a slow sad Albinoni adagio. Studyparticipants who listened after Mozart sonata perform better on the spatialtask than following the silence. However, study participants who listen theAlbinoni preform best out of the three groups. Then Thompson et al.
concludedthat the ME is a result of positive arousal. In 2002, Husain et al. reportedthat different effects on spatial skill were caused by four versions of thesame Mozart sonata ,which is the version of fast, slow, major, minor. It foundthat participants who listened to the fast version and the major version of theMozart sonata, have higher Spatial task scores. And the participants who gethigher scores were in a more positive emotional state which leads a conclusionthat the source of the ME are tend to be the positive emotional arousal. Due tothe positive emotional arousal, ME works. Besides, Jausovec and Habe (2005)reported that as the brain wave activity increasing while listening to a Mozartsonata, performance of on a set of participants on spatial rotation tasks enhanced.They finally conduct a theory that due to incensement of brain activity incertain areas by Mozart’s music selectively, the binding of sensory stimuliinto a unitary whole.
As the findings showed above, research stated that theimprovement of spatial learning for a brief period is account for music,especially some fast tempo of Mozart, major key compositions, which producedpositive emotional arousal and increased cortical activity as well.In addition, thereare series researches which have been reported evidence which disconfirm theME. (Chabris, 1999; Husain et al., 2002; McKelvie & Low, 2002; Nantais& Schellenberg, 1999; Steele, 2003; Steele, Bass, & Crook, 1999;Steele, Brown, & Stoecker, 1999; Thompson et al., 2001; Twomey &Esgate, 2002). Chabris made a report r of a meta-analysis of sixteen ME studiesand there showed no change was found in either IQ or spatial reasoning ability.
Chabris even argued ME by using the replication of the Rauscher et al. 1995study. Following studies of replication on ME which conducted by Steele, Bass,and Crook (1999) and Steele, Brown, and Stoecker (1999) are also found that nosignificant change in spatial IQ. McKelvie and Low also outlined that, noimprovement showed on the spatial IQ scores compare two groups of children wholistened to a Mozart sonata of not. In 2004, Fudin and Lembessis made criticizeon the original Rauscher et al.
(1993) study that there are defects on hismethodology. Besides, Steele figured out that rats are deaf in the womb or arethe rats are born with deaf, and the adult rats are deaf which cannot hear thetones in a Mozart sonata, may not have improvement on their maze learning byhearing a Mozart sonata in the studied by Rauscher et al. (1998). Thus, herecomes controversy to the study.
In a nutshell, the Mozart Effect foster and enhancedthe spatial skill which may be beneficial for thelearning of students. However, Series of studies and researches showed abovethat ME may regarded as the result of cortical arousal. Although it has widecurrency in education, the empirical supports for ME is useful to apply inclassroom is not sufficient. Therefore, I think ME should not be the basis foreducational practice. Educator should be aware of this issue and considerwhether apply it in a classroom learning or not.Moreover, I think theenticement and repetition which enhancing students learning can be betterintroduced by planning other learning activities and take beneficial forstudents since the theories reviewed on ME showed contradicts on cognitiveneuroscience researches.
However, I think people can also test whether ME iswork or not and used it in a certain learning ways for enhancing learning, suchas having a pried of listening the Mozart sonata before study or playing Mozartsonata to babies, etc. However, it is not suggested to be the basis foreducational practice as there are lack of empirical support.