Researchers have found the first evidence that young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year compared to children who do not receive musical training.
The idea that music makes you smarter has received considerable attention from scholars and media. The present report is aimed to test this hypothesis directly with random assignment of a sample of children (N=144) to two different types of music lessons (keyboard or voice) or two control groups that received drama lessons or no lessons. IQ was measured before and after the lessons. Compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ. The effect was relatively small, but it generalized across IQ subtests, index scores, and a standardized measure of academic achievement. Unexpectedly, children in the drama group exhibited substantial pre- to posttest improvements in adaptive social behavior that were not evident in the music groups.

Current interest in associations between music and intelligence stems from two independent areas of research. One focuses on short-term effects of simple listening to music. The so called Mozart effect refers to the finding that passive listening to music composed by Mozart produces temporary increases in spatial abilities Subsequent studies indicate, however, that the Mozart effect is difficult to replicate when evident, it can be attributed to differences in arousal and mood generated by the different testing conditions. Compared with sitting in silence for 10 min, listening to Mozart induces more positive moods and relatively optimal levels of arousal, which lead to higher levels of performance on tests of spatial abilities. The focus of the present report is on a separate line of research, which examines whether music lessons have collateral benefits that extend to nonmusical areas of cognition. Such transfer effects could be unique...