Mozart Effect Essay

Although it is only in recent times that scientists have started to document the
effects of music, the qualities of music were understood even in earliest times.

Evidence suggests that dance and song preceded speech, which means that music is
the original language of humans. Researcher’s have found that about two-thirds
of the inner ear’s cilia resonate only at the higher frequencies that are
commonly found in music (3,000 – 20,000 Hz). This seems to indicate that
primitive humans communicated primarily through song or tone. The ancient Greek
philosopher Pythagoras, best known for his work in mathematics, thought the
whole universe was comprised of sounds and numbers. There has long been an
awareness that music affects us, even if the reasons are not clear. Around 900
B.C., David played the harp “to cure Saul’s derangement” (Gonzalez-Crussi).

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One os the world’s oldest medical documents, the Ebers Papyrus (circa 1500
B.C.), prescribed incantations that Egyptian physicians chanted to heal the
sick. This is perhaps the first recorded use of music for therapy. The positive
influence of music may have also saved Beethoven’s life in the early eighteenth
century. In a letter he wrote, “I would have ended my life-it was only my
art that held me back” (Kamien). Every human civilization has developed
some sort of musical idiom and has used it as a form of tranquilizer, as a
lullaby. Great civilizations have developed without the wheel, without a written
language, without money, but the use of soothing sounds seems to be a very basic
component of human physiology. There are distinct differences between
compositions of different societies, but in spite of this, they can convey the
same moods, the same feelings, in all people. As Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of
Illness launched the era of scientific medicine, music largely faded from formal
medical settings. Fortunately, it never completely disappeared. American
medicine first started experimenting with the therapeutic use of music during
the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As early as 1804, Edwin Atlee,
wrote an essay in which he hoped to show that music, “has a powerful
influence upon the mind, and consequently on the body.” Modern music
therapy began to develop in the 1940’s when psychotherapists used music to calm
anxious patients, and music therapy programs were established in several
university psychology departments. The relatively new field of neuro-musicology
has been developed to experiment with music as a tool and to dissect and shape
it to the needs of society. The auditory sense The visible portion of the ear
consists of an external shell, with an aperture known as the meatus or auditory
canal in the lower half. At the other end of this canal, about an inch inside
the head is a small membrane of skin about 3/1000 of an inch thick. This piece
of skin is stretched tightly over a framework of bone much like skin is
stretched over a frame of wood to make a drum, and hence the name eardrum. Just
behind the eardrum lies a chain of three small bones known as ossicles. The
first ossicle is in contact with the eardrum, and the last presses against the
oval window that leads to the cochlea. The ossicles serve to amplify the tiny
changes in air pressure. The oval window passes the motion on to the fluid
inside the cochlea. The neural tissue in the cochlea lies on the basilar
membrane. The basilar membrane holds the auditory receptors, tiny hair cells
called cilia. Waves in the fluid of the ear stimulate the hair cells to send
signals to through the thalamus to the temporal lobes of the brain. Sound
reaches the ear in the form of waves which have traveled through the surrounding
air. When the waves reach the ear, they exert varying pressures on the ear-drum
and it is sent into motion. This motion is eventually detected by nerves and
sent to the brain (as described above). The ear-drum is a remarkably sensitive
instrument, an air displacement of only a ten-billionth of an inch is enough to
send a signal to the brain. This is far more sensitive than the best barometers
that scientists have today. Although the ear is very sensitive to minute changes
in air pressure, it is only when these pressure changes are repeated in rapid
succession that the messages are passed to the brain. Music Therapy Heart
Attacks The latest research demonstrates that music therapy has a variety of
healing effects. A study was conducted on three separate coronary care units in
hospitals. One group received only standard care, the second group practiced a
form of meditation, and the third group listened to sedative classical and
popular music. The patients who received only the standard care all showed high
levels of stress hormones in their blood, and rapid heart rates. These are both
undesirable reactions that can impair the immune system and slow healing. The
meditation and music groups showed significantly lower heart rates and levels of
stress hormones. The music group was the least stressed. Cancer In a study at
the Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh, fifteen adults suffering from a variety
of cancers were receiving chemotherapy. Common side effects of chemotherapy
include nausea and vomiting. A music-imagery program significantly reduced the
nausea and the amount of vomiting. Immune system Stress triggers the release of
certain hormones that suppress the immune system. In one study of night-shift
nurses who suffered from health problems, a twenty-minutes tape of sedative
music and guided imagery reduced their levels of stress hormones. Blood
Pressure/Heart Rate A study at the State University of New York suggests that
music could help prevent the rise in blood pressure that some people experience
while performing potentially stressful tasks. The study tested the effects of
music on 50 male surgeons as they performed mental arithmetic tasks. The
surgeons performed this task under three conditions: while listening to music of
their own choice, listening to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, and in
silence. Blood pressures increased the least when the surgeons were listening to
music of their own choice. Blood pressure rose when the surgeons performed the
task while listening to Pachelbel, and increased the most in complete silence.

The average heart rate followed a pattern similar to the blood pressure. Speed
and accuracy was the best while listening to Pachelbel. The type of music that
the surgeons selected for themselves did not seem to affect their outcomes.

Forty-six of the participants selected classical music, two selected jazz, and
two selected Irish folk. This study gives strong evidence that a soothing
environment can help reduce blood-pressure elevations that result from
psychological stress. The entrainment effect offers one other explanation for
the physiological effects of music. Entrainment is the bodies ability to
synchronize its rhythms with the rhythms of vibrating bodies around it. For
example, babies in neonatal care units have been known to synchronize their
natural rhythms with those generated by nearby computer monitors, matching their
heart rate to the monitor’s beeping. Studies on adults have also been able to
duplicate this effect with music. When volunteers were subjected to stress,
their heart rates rose as expected. However, when they listened to a simulated
slow heart beat, their tension levels decreased and their heart rates slowed. It
is possible to change a person’s heart rate with music that is written in a
specific tempo. When patients with a racing heart listen to music with about 50
to 60 beats per minute, their heart rate usually slows down to synchronize with
the slower rhythm of the music. Autism Nonverbal communication between and
autistic child playing the drums and a therapist on the piano can serve to bring
a child out of isolation, the Journal of the American Medical Association
reported. Clive E. Robbins, Ph.D., says “it’s a way of reaching into the
child’s mind.” He compared the musical interaction to verbal communication.

“As we speak, we improvise, you ask a question, I respond. So it is with
music. It can be used as flexibly as we use speech to reach children with
language problems. It bypasses those difficulties. Neurologic research is
discovering that the brain comes into synthetic activity in response to music.

Some say the brain is fundamentally programmed so that the organic connections
are symphonic rather than mechanistic.” Exercise Light rock music is often
used in various exercise programs. It helps the body to move to an even rhythm,
and the muscles to work more smoothly. It also has the effect of increasing
stamina, boosting endurance and lowering heart rate. Memory The right hemisphere
of the brain, which has to do with feelings, imagery, and the unconscious, is
activated by music. Janalea Hoffman, a therapists works with a lot of adults who
have experienced major gaps in their memories of childhood. Using music, they
are often able to recall lost or suppressed experiences, which in turn may
eliminate the emotional underpinning for their physical ailments. Paul Newham,
founder of the International Association for Voice and Movement Therapy in
London, explored the therapeutic difference between speaking and singing.

Whereas Sigmund Freud pioneered the talking cure, in which patients free
associations offered a “royal road” to the unconscious mind, Newham
believes that the singing voice offers a more direct route to the unconscious
mind. He says, “the whole purpose of psychoanalysis is to disable the
controlling domination of the conscious, particularly the superego, to see what
emerges when the language of the unconscious is allowed to speak. Freud did that
through language, through free association. I think that it’s one stage further
to strip away verbility itself and to allow the voice to speak directly through
song.” States of Consciousness It has been repeatedly demonstrated that
brain waves can be modified by both music and self-generated sounds. Ordinary
consciousness consists of beta waves, which vibrate from 14 to 20 Hz. Beta waves
occur when we focus on daily activities in teh external world, as well as when
we experience negative emotions. Heightened awareness and calm are characterized
by alpha waves, which cycle from 8 to 13 Hz. Periods of peak creativity,
meditation, and sleep are characterized by theta waves, from 4 to 7 Hz. Deep
sleep, and deep meditation and unconsciousness produce delta waves that range
from .5 to 3 Hz. The slower the brain waves, the more relaxed, contended, and
peaceful a person feels. Music with about 60 beats per minute can shift
conscouisness from the beta toward the alpha range, enhancing alertness and
well-being. While most people respond physically and emotionally to music, a few
go beyond that. For some music therapy is mystical experience used to transport
them into altered states of consciousness. Patients sometimes report
transpersonal experiences with music, and the impression it leaves may linger
for months or even years. These experiences can have a therapeutic effect by
changing the individual at a deep spiritual level. Effects of various types of
music Gregorian Chant – creates a sense of relaxed spaciousness, reduces stress,
deepens breathing Baroque – invokes sense of stability, order, and safety and
creates a mentally stimulating environment, increases rate of learning and
memory retention Classical – can improve memory, concentration, and spatial
perception Romantic – enhances sympathy, love, and compassion, invokes theme of
individualism or mysticism Impressionist – evokes dreamlike images, can unlock
creative impulses Jazz and Blues – helps to release deep joy and sadness Big
Band – inspires light movement, creates sense of well-being Rock – stimulates
active movement, may increase tension and stress New Age – increases sense of
space and time, induces state of relaxed alertness Heavy metal – stimulates the
nervous system. It is typically an outward exhibition of inner turmoil Country –
has been known to increases suicidal tendencies The Mozart Effect Alfred Tomatis,
M.D., a French physician has spent five decades studying the healing and
creative effects of music, particularly that of Mozart. He has tested over
100,000 clients in listening centers all over the world. Lately, researchers
have learned that the music of one composer in particular rises above all other
types in its ability to heal, namely that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The unique
ability of this music to heal the body, and strengthen the mind is known as the
Mozart Effect. One of Tomatis’ patients included the well-known French actor
Gerard Depardieu. Early in his career, the man struggled to become an actor.

Depardieu could not express himself, the more he tried, the worse his stammering
became. Tomatis traced the cause of Depardieu’s voice and memory problems to
deeper emotional problems. Depardieu’s treatment consisted of listening to
Mozart two hours a day for several months. Soon his appetite improved, he slept
better, and eventually he began to speak more clearly. He went on to become a
popular actor known for his mellifluous voice. Tomatis consistently found that
regardless of a listener’s tastes or previous exposure to the composer, the
music of Mozart calmed listeners, improved spatial perception, and allowed them
to express themselves more clearly. He found that Mozart achieved the best
long-term results. In 1993, Frances H. Rauscher, Ph.D., demonstrated that ten
minutes of listening to Mozart can temporarily increase intelligence. He had
thirty-six students stake a standard intelligence test after listening to either
silence, a relaxing guided imagery tape, or Mozart. After the period of silence,
the average student score was 110. After the guided imagery tape, the average
score was 111. After listening to Mozart the score significantly increased to
119. Even people who said they did not like the music had higher scores.

Rauscher says that, “listening to complex, nonrepetitive music like Mozart
may stimulate neural pathways that are important in thinking” (Castleman).

Rauscher used the same experimental design to test other types of music. In a
later study, Rauscher was able to duplicate the effect of Mozart’s music. He
also tested compositions by Philip Glass and other highly rhythmic dance pieces.

No increase in students IQ was observed after listening to this type of music.

This seems to suggest that hypnotic musical structures will not enhance mental
abilities. In a different study, scientists explored the neurophysiological
bases of this enhancement. Spatial intelligence was tested by projecting sixteen
abstract figures similar to folded piece of paper on an overhead screen for one
minute. The exercises tested whether seventy-nine could tell what the shapes
would look like when they were unfolded. Over a five-day period, one group
listened to Mozart, another to silence, and third to mixed sounds. The studies
showed that all the groups improved their scores from day one to day two, but
the Mozart group’s score rose 62% percent, compared to 14% for the silent group,
and 11% for the mixed-sound group. The Mozart group continued to achieve the
highest scores on subsequent days. Rauscher also conducted a study that showed
that music lessons or listening to music can enhance spatial reasoning
performance. The spatial reasoning of 19 preschool children who received eight
months of music lessons far exceeded the spatial reasoning performance of 15
preschoolers who did not receive music lessons. A variety of other people have
been discovering the benefits of Mozart’s music. For example, in monasteries in
Britain, monks play music to the animals in their care, and have found that cows
serenaded with Mozart give more milk. In Washington State, Department of
Immigration and Naturalization officials play Mozart and Baroque music during
English classes for new arrivals and reports that it speeds up their learning.

The city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada plays Mozart’s string quartets into the
city squares to calm pedestrian traffic. Officials have found, in addition to
other benefits, drug dealings have decreased. Many theories have been proposed
to explain the Mozart Effect. According to Gordon Shaw, a theoretical physicist,
Mozart’s music may give the brain a warm up. He suspects that complex music
facilitates certain complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities
like math and chess. According to David Sobel, M.D., “At least part of the
thrill of music seems to come from the release of endorphines, the powerful
opiate-like chemicals produced in the brain that induce euphoria and relieve
pain. Administering drugs that block endorphin production significantly blunts
the joy of music” (Castleman). Sedative music reduces the levels of stress
hormones, such as adrenaline, and has a calming effect on the limbic system of
the brain, which plays a key role in emotion. Using special instruments, Tomatis
discovered that burnout, fatigue, and the debilitating effects of stress come
when the central gray nuclei cells of the brain run low on electrical potential.

These cells act like small batteries, they generate the electricity for brain
waves that can be detected on EEGs. Before and after brain maps made from EEGs,
show that the brain is stimulated by high frequency sound. Interestingly, these
cells are not recharged by body metabolism. These cells are charged up by
something outside the body, namely sound. In particular, high frequency sounds
from 5,000 – 8,000 Hz. Interestingly, before babies are born, they hear their
mother’s voice at frequencies of about 8,000 Hz as a result of the distortion
when sound travels through fluid. After checking the music of many different
composers, Tomatis found that the music of Mozart was richest in these higher
frequencies. In Cymatics, Hans Jenny, a Swiss engineer and doctor, describes the
science of how sound and vibration interact with matter. Jenny shows that
intricate geometric figures can be formed by sound. He has produced oscillating
figures in liquids and gases. The forms and shapes that can be created by sound
are infinite and can be varied simply by changing the pitch, the harmonics of
the tone, and the material that is vibrating. Sounds, especially music, can have
a similar effect on cells, tissues and organs. “Vibrating sounds form
patterns and create energy fields of resonance and movement in the surrounding
space. We absorb these energies, and they subtly alter our breath, blood
pressure, muscle tension, skin temperature, and other internal rhythms”
(Campbell). Through this type of research, scientists and physicians have become
aware that the vibrations transmitted by music can have positive effects on
patients (or negative effects if the wrong type of music is used). A great deal
of music has a rhythm analogous to the average human heart beat (70-80 beats per
minute). We know the rhythms of music affect the rhythms of the autonomic
nervous system, which regulates a vast a array of systems in our body.

Therefore, we can understand the physiological and psychological importance of

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