The myth of the Mozart effect: listening to music does not help against epilepsy

Summary: The researchers state that there is no reliable scientific evidence to support the claim that listening to Mozart’s Sonata KV448 can relieve symptoms of epilepsy as previously asserted.

Source: University of Vienna

Over the past fifty years, there have been remarkable claims about the effects of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Reports of the alleged symptom-alleviating effects of listening to Mozart’s Sonata KV448 in epilepsy have attracted much public attention. However, the empirical validity of the underlying scientific evidence has remained uncertain.

Now, University of Vienna psychologists Sandra Oberleiter and Jakob Pietschnig show in a new study published in the prestigious journal Nature Science Reports that there is no evidence of a positive effect of Mozart’s melody on epilepsy.

In the past, Mozart’s music has been associated with many seemingly positive effects on humans, animals, and even microorganisms. For example, listening to his sonata has been said to increase the intelligence of adults, children, or fetuses in the womb.

Even the cows produced more milk, and the bacteria in the sewage treatment plants worked better when they heard Mozart’s composition.

However, most of these alleged effects have no scientific basis. The origin of these ideas goes back to the long disproved observation of a temporary increase in performance on spatial reasoning tests in students after listening to the first movement. cheerful of Mozart’s sonata KV448 in D major.

It shows a woman listening to music with headphones
More recently, the Mozart effect has experienced another variation: some studies have reported relief of symptoms in epileptic patients after listening to KV448. Image is in public domain

More recently, the Mozart effect has experienced another variation: some studies have reported relief of symptoms in epileptic patients after listening to KV448.

However, a new comprehensive research synthesis by Sandra Oberleiter and Jakob Pietschnig of the University of Vienna, based on all available scientific literature on this subject, showed that there is no reliable evidence for such a beneficial effect of Mozart’s music on epilepsy.

They found that this purported Mozart effect can be attributed primarily to selective reporting, small sample sizes, and inadequate research practices in this body of literature.

“Mozart’s music is beautiful, but unfortunately, one cannot expect relief from the symptoms of epilepsy” conclude the researchers.

About this Mozart Effect and Epilepsy Research News

Author: Veronique Schallhart
Source: University of Vienna
Contact: Veronika Schallhart – University of Vienna
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Free access.
“Unfounded Authority, Underpowered Studies, and Non-Transparent Reporting Perpetuate the Mozart Effect Myth: A Multiverse Meta-Analysis” by Sandra Oberleiter et al. Scientific reports


Unfounded Authority, Weak Studies, and Non-Transparent Reports Perpetuate the Myth of the Mozart Effect: A Multiverse Meta-Analysis

See also

It shows a brain

In recent years, an ostensible effect of Mozart, suggesting beneficial influences of listening to sonata KV448 on epilepsy, has been widely covered in popular media. However, the evidence value of such a potential effect does not seem clear.

Here we present the first formal meta-analysis on this topic, based on k = 8 studies (NOT= 207).

Other published studies that met our inclusion criteria had to be omitted due to insufficient reporting and non-responsiveness of authors to data requests.

In three independent analyses, we observed nonsignificant summary effects ranging from trivial to small for listening to Mozart KV448 or other musical stimuli on epilepsy or other medical conditions (grange: 0.09–0.43).

Bias and sensitivity analyzes suggested that these effects were likely inflated and that non-trivial effects were driven by isolated leverage points. Multiverse analyzes were consistent with these results, showing inconsistent patterns of evidence.

Low primary study power and therefore a lack of evidentiary value indicate that there is little reason to suspect a specific Mozart effect. All in all, listening to music, let alone a particular type of sonata, does not seem to have a beneficial effect on epilepsy.

Unfounded authority, underpowered studies, and non-transparent reporting seem to be the primary drivers of the Mozart Effect mythos.

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