Part VI: Natural potential
Music can be used as a tool by naturopaths because it apparently has a cumulative effect. Encouraging young patients to cultivate a love of intricate music has the potential to prime them for self actualization. The implication for those seeking to increase their IQ is evident. However, on a much more general every day level, music may be explored to help with mood and arousal, and to help balance depression and anxiety. Abraham Maslow defined the parameters needed to reach the ultimate in an individuals personality. Reasoning through the humanist perspective, all individuals have a positive push of inner-directedness that if unimpeded will move us towards our fullest potential and growth. Music can be a powerful guide in our journey for this self actualization. It can aide in this by giving us the tools to perform at our very best in several cognitive tasks, including spatial reasoning. There is also potential to rebuild the right hemisphere of the brain after the effects of trauma.

Unfortunately, research is severely lacking in research of varying forms of music. It is clear however, that music primes the brain to work harder, work better, increase capacity, regulate mood and arousal, and to perform spatial reasoning and other cognitive tasks. Repetition is key, the more you make use of this phenomenon the more you will get out of it. The earlier in life you begin to utilize this phenomenon the longer it will last and the more you will get out of it. Because the style of Mozart and his contemporaries in a up-tempo, major mode is ideal for performance, it is beneficial to cultivate a love for this style as early in life as possible. However, if that is not the case, more familiar and enjoyable forms of music will have similar or better results as listening to classical music of the like. Learning to play, read, and compose music will further increase your brain’s capacity to perform tasks, and memorize. Though hyper-focusing may have the potential to suppress some of your innate creativity and spatial reasoning abilities. However overall, the costs don’t outweigh the gains, as you will be more likely to be proficient in both hemispheres of the brain, just  not equally. Women and men may not differ nearly as much as would be expected in perceiving emotion in music. Though women did show a significant advancement over men in certain cognitive functions, spatial reasoning was not one of them. Spatial reasoning abilities among men and women are fairly consistent between the sexes when listening to classical music in both a major or minor mode, but music in the major mode (cheerful) has a more positive effect on cognitive tasks. Cultivating a love of music and thinking about it in both a right brain intuitive mode, and a left brain logical mode will help the individual reach their fullest potential.


Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K.N. (1995). Listening to Mozart enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: Towards a neurophsiological basis. Neuroscience Letters, 44-47.

Schellenberg, E. Glen. (2005). Music and Cognitive Abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14 (6), 317-320.

Brandler, S. & Rammsayer, T.H. (2003). Differences in mental abilities between musicians and non-musicians. Psychology of Music, 31(2), 123-138.

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K.N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365.

Sutton, C. J. C. & Lowis, M. J. (2008). The Effect of Musical Mode on Verbal and Spatial Task Performance. Creativity Research Journal, 20 (4), 420-426.

Campbell, D. (2001, 1997). The Mozart Effect. New York: Quill HaperCollins Publishers.

Leeds, J. (2001). The Power of Sound. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Jausovec, N., & Habe, K. (2005). The influence of Mozart’s sonata K. 488 on brain activity during performance of spatial rotation and numerical tasks. Brain Topology, 17, 207–218.

Pert, C. (2000). Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind [CD]. Louisville, Colorado: Sounds True, Inc.

Part III: Style
Music’s benefits are vast. It can adapt mood, adapt positive thinking, strengthen survival skills, and sympathy (Leeds, 2003). These are among the improvements that music can make on peoples lives. All music genres have significant implications for the mind. Dr. Alfred Tomatis’ research on the workings of the inner ear were undoubtedly the precursor for the focus on Mozart’s music and spatial reasoning. Tomatis focused on Mozart’s music namely the violin concertos numbers 3 and 4 as having the strongest ability to positively effect students capacity to focus and concentrate. Music can have a positive or negative effect on spatial performance tasks. Sutton and Lowis found that when music is sad (often minor in composition) it can make the listener sad, and depressed people show impairment in spatial tasks because depression effects the arousal in the right cerebral hemisphere of the brain which is associated with cognitive spatial processing. Overall, the Sutton-Lowis study showed that cheerful music enhances spatial reasoning more than sad music, and that this is because music elicits and emotional response. They also found that the degree to which and emotional response is elicited is similar in both men and women.

In a 1995 experiment done by Rausher, Shaw, and Ky, their work suggested that listening to a piano sonata composed by Mozart lead to increased spatial reasoning performance. They also found that listening to repetitive music does not aide in spatial reasoning. These findings are in correlation with Shaw’s statements, “We suspect that complex music facilitates certain complex neuronal patterns involved in high brain activities like math and chess. By contrast, simple and repetitive music could have the opposite effect.” Shaw suggests a possibility that banal music or sounds may have and adverse effect on the mind and brain functions. Just as highly intricate music containing complicated melodies and rhythms have a positive effect on he mind’s ability to reason spatially, simple, repetitive, monotonous music may have the opposite effect on the mind’s ability to reason spatially. The latter may actually regress the mind’s ability, if even for short periods of time.

Age Matters

It is found that the impact music has on spatial reasoning only last from 10 to 15 minutes in adults. This is a temporary effect. However, it can have cumulative effects concurrently. Therefore, the more you make use of this phenomenon the more readily and quicker it will manifest. It is also of note, that the younger the individual is when in a musical environment, the longer the effect has been shown to last (Schellenberg, 2005). It is apparent that music has a cumulative effect because the younger the person is when introduced to music the longer potential they have to hold on to the benefits of this phenomenon. Schellenberg noted that the phenomenon looses its longevity the later in life it begins to be implemented. He also said that the more it is used (even later in life) the greater its magnitude for positive results. Though listening is sufficient to prime the brain for a boost in spatial tasks performance, learning to play the music is significant in perpetuating longer lasting effects (Schellenberg, 2005). In a correlative test of 147 children and 150 undergraduate adults, (using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III, or WISC-III and the Wechsler Adult Intelligences Scale-III, or WAIS-III respectively) Schellenberg concluded that the effects of music on cognitive abilities are greater with more exposure to music regularly and can be long lasting.

To musician or to non-musician
Though differences in certain cognitive functions between musicians and non-musicians exist, the differences between the two in terms of spatial reasoning did not favor the musicians according to Brandler and Rammsayer (2003). Researchers were surprised to find this to be the case, but hold their finding as reliable as these results were consistently shown by four Cattell’s Culture Free Intelligence Test, Scale 3 (CFT) subscales. In explanation, that they warn is “a preliminary, highly speculative, possible explanation “, they suggest that perhaps our thinking of relegating music to the right hemisphere (because music stimulates the right brain more than the left brain) of the brain should be revised. It is certain that highly skilled musicians utilize both the right and left brains to carry out their musical lifestyles. However, the memory aspect of their mind may dominate over the reason part. This is indicative of a diverse array of mental abilities in musicians and contrasted by a stronger yet more base mental ability in non-musicians. Therefore, “early extensive musical training” results in a change to the cortical organization. This augments the left brain functions of the musician, while diminishing the innate musical abilities of the right brain.  This is reminiscent of how in Western education, schooling may lead to strengthening the left brain while neglecting the right brain.

Sounds of Sex
Though there were differences between certain cognitive functions between men and women, the differences in spatial reasoning between the two groups was not significant in the Sutton-Lowis experiment. Sutton and Lowis are interested in determining the differences between sexes when they listen to music on both their verbal and spatial reasoning skills. Overall, they tout that music has an ability to increase spatial and verbal reasoning, and their data supports this claim. However, the most significant correlation was found between women and verbal reasoning. Though the other sectors had over all improvement, their amount of improvement were nominal in comparison to the increase found with women in verbal reasoning. Their study is particularly noteworthy because there is a severe lack of research on the differences of how the sexes are effected by music. Sutton and Lowis found that the degree to which an emotional response is elicited is similar in both men and women.

References available in Part VI

Part I: In the beginning
Music is a part of every culture, and yet it is often taken for granted as it is so ingrained in daily life. Music is one of the broadest elements in our world. New genres seem to sprout every day. It is always developing and evolving, ebbing and flowing. There is little doubt as to why it is listed as one of the seven intellectual fields enumerated by Howard Gardner. Scientist and researchers give a thorough explanation of music’s link to cognition and spatial reasoning. These works can give anyone a basic working knowledge of how music effects spatial reasoning, and how it may be used for self improvement. Exploring music’s effects on spatial reasoning may help unlock a valuable tool for health and healing.

Professor of Education at Harvard University, Howard Gardner listed music and spatial reasoning as two of seven types of intelligence in the 1980s. Spatial reasoning is called various things including spacial intellect and spatial-temporal reasoning, among others. Though differing phrases may attempt to evoke a particular tone, spatial reasoning is at the core of each understanding. Spatial reasoning is involved in manipulating 2-D images into 3-D images with your mind’s eye. This may involve physical navigation, mental imagery, hand eye coordination, and spatial relationships. This skill is used by all. However, it is particularly important to engineers, architects, and computer game programmers. From playing video games to planning out how to arrange furniture in an empty room (topography), spatial reasoning is the core component. The degree of an individual’s spatial reasoning capacity can be tested for via an IQ test, as it is a component of intelligence. On IQ tests, spatial reasoning is often tested by the individual attempting to recreate a particular sequence of colored blocks. Some IQ test utilized by the following studies include the Stadford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III ( WISC-III), the Wechsler Adult Intelligences Scale-III (WAIS-III), and the Cattell’s Culture Free Intelligence Test, Scale 3 (CFT). I have reviewed six articles that explore the relationship between music and spatial reasoning.

What’s the phenomenon?
It has been found that music, to varying degrees, positively or negatively prime the cells in the brain to perform spatial reasoning tasks (Jausavec and Habe, 2005). An experiment conducted by Rauscher, Shaw and Ky with undergraduate students in the mid 1990s showed that their IQ scores (Stanford-Binet) rose by 8 to 9 points after listening to music composed by Mozart. It was also found that this effect lasted only temporarily, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. This phenomenon was dubbed “The Mozart Effect” (Rauscher et al., 1995). Sutton and Lowis (2008) note that “Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky reported a short-term enhancement in spatial-temporal reasoning following listening to Mozart music”. Rauscher conducted an additional experiment in 1998 where he found that certain music increases test subjects’ performance, concentration, focus, and spatial reasoning tasks. These results were elicited through a testing format. Rauscher concentrated on the effects of classical music. Don Campbell, author of “The Mozart Effect” credits the music of Mozart and his contemporaries with the ability to “stimulate learning and memory” and “strengthen concentration abilities”. Sutton and Lowis found that the phenomenon works without the listener focusing on the music. The emotions elicited by the music act on a subconscious level. The music was not a focal point but rather background music predominately relegated to the preconscious. Furthermore, none of the participants expressed a conscious awareness of the music during their debriefing sessions with the researchers.

Further research (Schellenberg, 2005) has found that music improves social skills, mood, and other cognitive functions in addition to spatial reasoning. This phenomenon is significant and unique because though music is the method, the benefits and improvements extend to non-music related abilities, the results are consistent, and they are most likely to occur by listening or playing music than by other activities. Schellenberg broadened the research substantiated by Rauscher (1993) by noting spatial reasoning and other cognitive ability links to music other than classical. He found that music that is familiar, or enjoyable to the individual often has even greater potential to strengthen these cognitive tasks, with spatial reasoning being at the forefront. To broaden the term, Schellenberg renamed this phenomenon the “arousal-and-mood hypothesis”, thus indicating the link between the benefits and the emotional state of the individual. Schellenberg also noted that the emotional state of the individual primes cognitive functions to enhance in ability. Thus, listening to music has the capacity to effect the brain, emotions, and mind set.

References available in Part VI

Its no big secret that the image of the woman has been dragged through the mud in hip hop over the past 17 years. In the July 2008 edition of Rolling Stone, President Elect Barack Obama call Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, and Ludacris “great talents and great businessmen.” He went on to say, “I am troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of a lot of rap lyrics…It would be nice if I could have my daughters listen to their music without me worrying that they were getting bad images of themselves.”

We have seen this trend move from name calling “bitch” and “ho” to images of women being led around on leashes like animals in the 50 cent video “P.I.M.P.”. However, I think the image of women as conveyed through hip hop is back on the upswing. Artists are realizing that not only women and our elders, but the majority of the population is really getting sick and tired of hearing misogynistic themes and side-notes in music. While flipping through the radio (which I try to do as little as possible) you may hear more positive depictions of females like in Independent by Webbie featuring Soulja Boy and Lil Phat from 3 Deep:

“Independent do you know what that mean?
She got to her own house
She got her own car
Two jobs work hard you a bad broad”

Or perhaps in Ride by Ace Hood ft Trey Songz:

“See mama, all I want you to do is hold it down for me
I want you to be my ride or die
while I go get this money, I promise Im get us out the hood baby”

I know what them girls like by Ludacris ft Chris Brown is another positive example. No these examples are far from perfect and generally don’t leave out their eagerness to get them into bed, but hip hops got to start somewhere.

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) music has consistently been a more woman-loving, baby-making style of music, therefore this trend has not been nearly as apparent. However, songs like Ms. Independent, and the even better Ms. Independent/She got her own Remix with Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx, and Fabolous has has overwhelming success and popularity as Ne-Yo attempts to bring focus back to the image of the gentleman. Let’s all hope this is not a fad but is an new attitude that is going to stay.