The Mozart effect: An opportunity to examine the cognitive neuroscience of music listening

Samia Rachael Toukhsati, Nikki Sue Rickard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Other


Can music listening offer reliable cognitive benefits? If so, how is this achieved? These outwardly simple questions are at the heart of decades of research that has now accumulated to examine the cognitive effects of music listening. The most well known of these is the infamous Mozart Effect which describes a short-lived improvement in abstract reasoning following exposure to Mozart's K. 448 sonata. This effect has been replicated by some, but not others, and remains the subject of much controversy. Nonetheless, efforts to understand the basis for the Mozart Effect have yielded two prominent neurobiological theories; the Trion Model and the Arousal and Mood Hypothesis. These theories offer insights into the cognitive neuroscience of music listening, but do not yet accommodate all of the research findings. New research technologies that allow us to consider multiple causal factors (neurobiological, emotional, cognitive, and experiential) as underpinning the Mozart Effect will likely resolve this issue. This chapter provides a review of the music-cognition literature and highlights specific challenges to advancement in this field. Our aim is to use the Mozart Effect to illustrate the progress that has been made in the field of music-cognition and to demonstrate the need for ongoing theoretical inquiry.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLifelong engagement with music: Benefits for mental health and well-being
EditorsNikki S Rickard, Katrina McFerran
Place of PublicationHauppauge NY United States
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9781611222401
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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