If you are of a certain age, you may have heard about the so-called “Mozart Effect,” the idea that playing classical music (particularly any of the music composed by a short, spendthrift Austrian prankster with a fondness for scatalogical humor) is a sure-fire way to boost the intelligence of your unborn child.
This idea gained so much popular currency that in 1998, the then-governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, proposed spending $105,000 to provide classical music to all of the 100,000 or so infants born in Georgia each year. After the suggestion caught flak from conservative talk radio hosts (including noted cultural arbiter Rush Limbaugh), Miller dropped the idea of using public money. But Sony Music Entertainment offered to create and donate a CD for distribution to Georgia’s parents. The resulting disc, entitled “Build Your Baby’s Brain with Music,” is available on Amazon.com; no word on whether Georgia and Sony are still handing them out to the parents of newborns.
Researchers at Appalachian State University reported in the journal Psychological Sciencethat they were unable to replicate the so-called “Mozart Effect” and the concept has generally been debunked (which has not prevented a small cottage industry of books and musics on the subject from springing up; just search “Mozart Effect” on Amazon.com).