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Music and Intelligence

Note: This was originally an item in the Brainpower Newsletter. Visit the homepage or use the form on this page to subscribe.

Can music help you think better? Yes, and after telling you about some of the research into long-term effects, I'll let you in on a faster way to boost your brain power with music.

Listening to, and participating in music creates new neural pathways in your brain that stimulate creativity. Research shows that music actually trains the brain for higher forms of thinking. Years ago there was an article in a Newsweek (2/19/96) about this. They reported on a study from the University of California.

Researchers followed the progress of three-year-olds, split into two groups. One group had no particular training in or exposure to music. The other studied piano and sang daily in chorus. After eight months the musical three-year-olds were much better at solving puzzles. When tested, they also scored 80% higher in spatial intelligence than the non-musical group. That's quite a difference isn't it?

What Type of Music?

In a study done at UC Irvine's Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 36 students were given three spatial reasoning tests on a standard IQ test.

Before the first test, they listened to Mozart's sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448 for ten minutes.

For the second test, they listened to a relaxation tape.

Before the third, they sat in silence.

Here are the average scores for all 36 students: 1st test: 119. 2nd test: 111. 3rd test: 110.

An average increase of 9 points by listening to Mozart. It is assumed that their actual intelligence didn't increase, but that the music put them in a state that gave them better access to the resources of their brains. Interestingly, though, other studies do show that repeated exposure to slow music can permanently increase you IQ. Get out the Mozart!

Guaranteed Brain Boosting Music CDs

Check out the new brain wave entrainment technologies. Brain wave frequencies vary according to the state you are in. Daydreaming and meditation usually take place in the "Alpha" range of frequencies, for example.

So if you listen to music containing beats at a frequency of 10 Hz it will feel very relaxing, because your brain will begin to follow this frequency and reproduce the rhythm in the music. You will automatically generate more brain waves at a 10 Hz frequency and enter a relaxed Alpha mental state.

Not all brain wave entrainment CDs use music. Some use the raw "binaural beats" as they are called, embedded in white noise, or in sounds of nature. One of the least expensive sources of quality brain wave entrainment CDs I've found, is a company called Binaural Beats. They have CDs for relaxing, focusing, creativity and more (different frequencies for different purposes). For more information, visit: Binaural Beats.


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