Austrian researchers have concluded that listening to the music of Mozart does not make children and adolescents more intelligent.
After reviewing 15 years of research into the so-called Mozart effect, a team at Vienna University's faculty of psychology found no proof of the phenomenon.
The Mozart effect originated in a 1993 California study that involved just 36 students. It suggested that adolescents who listened to a sonata written by the 18th-century Austrian composer performed better in reasoning tests than those who had been left in a silent room.
It was a popular finding and led to many parents playing Mozart for their children.
Other researchers have since tried to replicate the effect, with little success.
American psychologist Scott Lilienfeld included the Mozart effect in his 2009 book 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology.
'Those who listened to music, Mozart or something else — Bach, Pearl Jam — had better results than the silent group. But we already knew people perform better if they have a stimulus.'—Researcher Jakob Pietschnig
The Austrian researchers analyzed 40 studies involving more than 3,000 subjects.
"Those who listened to music, Mozart or something else — Bach, Pearl Jam — had better results than the silent group. But we already knew people perform better if they have a stimulus," head researcher Jakob Pietschnig told Agence France-Presse.
But there was no proof that Mozart actually improves intelligence, he said.
"I recommend that everyone listen to Mozart, but it's not going to improve cognitive abilities as some people hope," Pietschnig said.
He suggested that the original study, published in the journal Nature, was accorded such weight because of "publication bias," the tendency of scientific journal editors to prefer studies that show positive results rather than being inconclusive.