Mozart Sonata Activates More of Your Brain

From a study by Bodner M, Muftuler LT, Nalcioglu O, and Shaw GL:

Behavioral studies, motivated by columnar cortical model predictions, have given evidence for music causally enhancing spatial-temporal reasoning. A wide range of behavioral experiments showed that listening to a Mozart Sonata (K.448) gave subsequent enhancements. An EEG coherence study gave evidence for a carryover from that Mozart Sonata listening condition to the subsequent spatial-temporal task in specific cortical regions. Here we present fMRI studies comparing cortical blood flow activation by the Mozart Sonata vs. other music. In addition to expected temporal cortex activation, we report dramatic statistically significant differences in activation by the Mozart Sonata (in comparison to Beethoven’s Fur Elise and 1930s piano music) in dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, occipital cortex and cerebellum [emphasis added], all expected to be important for spatial-temporal reasoning. It would be of great interest to explicitly test this expectation. We propose an fMRI study comparing (subject by subject) brain areas activated in music listening conditions and in spatial-temporal tasks.

Mozart, Sonata for Two Pianos, K. 448, II:

Beethoven, “Für Elise”:

This study brings up two important points. The first is that not all pieces of classical music have the same effect on your brain, and therefore there’s a lot of research to be done, simply because of the hundreds of thousands of classical compositions that exist. (While researching my forthcoming book, I discovered two hundred classical composers that I never knew existed, and I have a graduate degree in classical music, and had read thousands of books about it. Yet this whole group of composers has escaped the awareness of the mainstream classical community.) The second is that while The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World…Ever! isn’t at all bad for you, and is probably very good for you, I can imagine that a hundred years in the future, we will think about classical music very differently, and perhaps almost like a medieval herbal, in taking prescribed doses of very specific pieces of music for alleviation of pain, specific health goals, and other benefits that have already been documented, and more that haven’t. (Note: I am not suggesting you go out and buy this album–but it’s the kind of album that most neophytes to classical music gravitate to.) It’s clear that living in a time when this research is opening up is one of the most exciting times in neuroscience and classical music ever!

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