Welcome to Ask ParentData! A reminder that you can submit questions for future weeks here. As always, the first question is available to all subscribers (today: music exposure), and there are a few bonus ones behind the paywall. Enjoy!
Any data to support whether exposing baby to certain types of music is more beneficial to learning/intelligence than others? My Spotify leans more toward Mos Def than Mozart.
In 1993 the journal Nature published a paper that argued that classical music improves IQ scores. The paper is simple. The authors had 36 college students each do three spatial-reasoning tasks that can be used as IQ measures. Before the tasks, the students listened to either Mozart (“Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major”), a spoken relaxation tape, or nothing.
The authors found that listening to Mozart produced an eight- to nine-point increase in measured IQ. This is enormous. And this study is the reason that people tell you to (say) play music to your baby in utero, or buy “Baby Mozart” CDs. However, on further examination, the study is not replicable. In a way, that shouldn’t be very surprising, since the results really seem quite a bit too large to be plausible.
Follow-up work showed that the effects were smaller, limited to a particular task (paper-cutting), and, notably, not specific to classical music. Other music works similarly — maybe better! — and (these follow-on authors argue) the mechanism is likely mood rather than anything else. If you’re feeling happy, which is an effect of music, be it Mozart or Mos Def, you perform better.
All of this is to say: don’t worry too much about your Spotify choices. Although enjoy your role as the music chooser while it lasts. My life as an older-child parent has become a continual series of BTS songs.
Note: This is partially excerpted from The Family Firm.