In 1791, upon receiving the news that Mozart had died, the famous Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn was quoted saying "Posterity will not see such a talent again in a hundred years!" Companies now convince parents to believe that their baby can achieve this once-in-a-century genius. Known as the Mozart effect, they say that listening to Mozart, or classical music in general, can increase the intelligence of their child and they sell classical music products specifically marketed towards babies. Now how could anybody believe this crazy claim? It must be supported by a vast amount of scientific evidence...well, not really.
In all started in 1993 when an article was published in the journal Nature. The article claimed that listening to a Mozart sonata temporarily enhanced spatial temporal reasoning. Their finding were misinterpreted and people believed that the study claimed that intelligence in general could be improved. This belief was popularized in a 1997 book, The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit, by Don Campbell. It stated that the listening to Mozart can increase one's IQ and produce many beneficial effects to brain function. The book's most popular claim was playing classical music to infants can benefit their mental development. Since then, classical music targeted towards infants has become a multi-million dollar industry.
Despite its popularity, little evidence supports the Mozart effect. Many studies have attempted to find the Mozart effect, yet most found that it only boosted intelligence by a minimal insignificant amount for a short period of time. The best explanation for the effect is that it creates a short term arousal. When aroused this increases alertness which might help one perform a mentally demanding task for the short term. But this does not necessarily make one more intelligent in the long run. The moral of the story is: if you want to introduce your infants to the wonderful world of classical music, that's great, but just don't expect them to get smarter.