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Music Affects Cognitive Function Only If It Is Experienced Personally

2462 words - 10 pages

In the early 1990’s, parents feared missing the window of opportunity to maximize their children’s brain-function. This belief was known as “infant determinism” and was later disproven (Helding 475). However, strings of this belief still linger today. The media explosion of the “Mozart Effect” has left a legacy long after the theory has been disproven. Of course parents want to ensure that their baby will have the best possible brain-function. Intelligence is essential to be successful in the world. It is important to provide the best learning environment as early as possible. But simply playing Mozart in the background will not improve cognitive abilities in an infant. This does not go to say that music does not have priceless benefits. However, parents should know that simply exposing their children to music will not reap these benefits. Experiencing music for themselves will acquire physical, intellectual and social benefits.
Music affects the body in various and unique ways, so it is not surprising to think that listening to this beautiful art form would have a profound effect on the brain and in turn affect cognitive functioning. In fact, rhythm and melody do have surprising affects on the brain, but have nothing to do with intelligence or function. Rhythm so deeply affects the human body because it is a integral part of the natural world. Everything holds its own natural beat in the song of life; the heart constantly pulsates, water steadily drips off of tree leaves, the crickets sing at a tempo all their own. The body senses rhythm instinctively because it is a part of life. Rhythm is the most effective element of music that grabs attention (Schenck and Berger 138). Melody also has an affect on the human body as it directly affects physiological functioning. Melody captures emotions because it is instinctively interpreted. Because melody is instinctively internalized, it does not require cognitive functioning to be absorbed (Schenck and Berger 160-161). These are only two elements of music that affect the human body.
There are a couple theories that explain the effect of music on the brain. One theory is the neurological theory that suggests listening to Mozart improves brain functioning directly (Jones and Estell 220). Another term for this idea is the “trion model”. The trion model is a mathematical model that stimulates neuron movements in the brain. Listening to Mozart would theoretically ready the brain for spatial-reasoning tasks by stimulating neurons to make similar connections needed to perform spatial tasks. It is like a warm-up for the brain’s workout. However, this model is unsupported by neurological evidence (Crncec, Wilson, and Prior 305). Music does not directly affect the brain’s ability to perform well on spatial-reasoning tasks.
The second model, the “arousal-mood model”, seems to provide a better understanding of music’s effects on the brain. This theory suggests listening to classical music, such as Mozart, produces...

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