Molecular basis for Mozart effect revealed
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New research has revealed a molecular basis for the “Mozart effect” – the observation that a brief stint of Mozart, but not other music, may improve learning and memory.
Rats that heard a Mozart sonata expressed higher levels of several genes involved in stimulating and changing the connections between brain cells, the study showed. The team, including the researcher who first proposed the Mozart effect, hope the results will help them design music therapy treatments for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The Mozart effect first came to light in a 1993 paper in Nature (vol 365, p 611), when Fran Rauscher, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, US, and colleagues showed that college students who listened to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major for 10 minutes performed better on a spatial reasoning test than students who listened to new age music or nothing at all.
The findings sparked excitement from the general public – specially designed Mozart CDs leapt up the music charts – and some scepticism from the scientific community.