Thursday, March 22, 2012
The Mozart Effect & Baby Brilliance
As we progress through pregnancy, Mrs. Blackwell and I have been the recipients of a steady stream of advice and anecdotal evidence to support all manner of opinions and suggestions.
This advice runs the gamut of all things baby.
Keep tabs on the times of day your unborn baby is most active; that's when they'll be awake after they're born.
If you eat spicy foods during pregnancy, your baby will grow to love spicy food too.
Surrounding your baby with color will help cultivate an active imagination.
During childbirth the delivering woman should do (fill in the blank) to help facilitate the process.
If the mom's belly sits low, she's carrying a girl. Or is it a boy?
That's a lot of advice on a wide spectrum of topics
much of it unproven. If there is one topic for which there is near universal agreement it's that expectant moms should play music for their babies.
The reasons for this aren't exactly made clear but are usually covered with a broad stroke justification like "it makes them smarter" or "it helps with their development." The idea that music helps the brain's development and performance is a popular one and known as the Mozart Effect.
I love music and certainly have no aversion to playing it for the baby. Shoot, if it will make a baby smarter to listen to Vivaldi or Velvet Underground, I could care less. Stretch out the headphones, fix them atop mom's tummy, crank up the jams and let the smartifying begin.
But, the fact is that research supporting the contention that babies brains are aided by listening to music is, well, lacking. As in there hasn't been any research done. None, zero, notta, a great big zilch.
It's strange that a suggestion that is so frequently repeated and, really commonly accepted, is in reality devoid of any kind of legitimacy or scientific support.
That said, plenty of smart, inquisitive and otherwise exceptional minds see the merit in this, even if there's no evidence to support it. Some folks, for the sake of conversation let's call them "My Wife," go so far as to feel guilt and regularly refrain that "I'm just not playing enough music for the baby" or "He's not getting enough music" as if music is sunlight and the unborn baby is a plant.
Well, fear not wifey. It turns out our little guy isn't missing out on a thing
yet. Now, when he makes his way into the outside world, the pressure is on.
In the meantime, we'll find plenty of other scientifically proven things to feel guilty about.