VIENNA, Austria — Can music really act as a form of medicine? According to a new study by researchers in Austria, music’s positive impact on disease is all in your head. Their findings explain that there is no credible link between listening to music and alleviating symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy. Simply put, the “Mozart effect” appears to be a myth.
What is the Mozart effect?
For 50 years, there have been many claims that listening to the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can have several positive benefits for the brain. Specifically, prior studies have linked Mozart’s Sonata KV448 to improvements among patients dealing with the seizure-causing condition epilepsy. Listening to the sonata also reportedly increases intelligence among adults, children, and even fetuses in the womb. Interestingly, scientists have previously claimed that the Mozart effect can also help cows produce more milk, and bacteria in sewage plants work better.
However, the new report by a team from the University of Vienna finds that there is no scientific basis for any of these claims! Psychologists Sandra Oberleiter and Jakob Pietschnig explain that these previous studies often looked at “the long-disproven observation of a temporary increase in spatial reasoning test performance” among participants who listened to the first movement allegro con spirito of Mozart’s sonata KV448 in D major.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, adds that there is no reliable evidence showing a link between Mozart’s music and epilepsy. They found that previously reported benefits for these patients are likely the result of “selective reporting, small sample sizes, and inadequate research practices.”
“Mozart’s music is beautiful, but unfortunately, we cannot expect relief from epilepsy symptoms from it” the researchers conclude in a university release.