In 1993 neurobiologists at the University of California at Irvine reported that listening to a Mozart sonata enhanced college students' scores on a spatial thinking test. Although the study said nothing about brain development, doting parents soon began playing Mozart for their babies and even unborn children, hoping to give them an early intellectual edge.
Alas, it seems that a Mozart sonata is nothing more than beautiful music. Psychologist Kenneth Steele of the Appalachian State University recently duplicated the 1993 experiment and a 1995 follow-up. "We found no effect," he says. Christopher Chabris at Harvard analyzed all existing studies on Mozart and IQ and likewise discerned no improvement in reasoning ability. "It's good for babies and children to be exposed to a variety of stimulation," Steele says, "but it's a mistake to think that Mozart will make them do better on an IQ test."