Children with Attention Deficit Disorder often prefer to have background music playing when they are doing their school work or working. Parents are often worried that music will be yet another distraction that keeps these ADHD Kids from completing their work. Their fears may be unjustified. Music may actually be beneficial. There is not a medical consensus on the benefits of music and brain functions as of yet but new studies are pointing to A few specific brain benefits that may come to us from listening to music.
Remember the Mozart Effect? It was all the rage about 12 years ago. After my son was born in Georgia, we left the hospital with a Mozart CD. The nursing staff told us that the music would improve our baby's brain function. The Governor of Georgia had determined that giving every infant born in Georgia a Mozart CD was a very inexpensive price to pay to make that Georgia infant a person with superior intelligence.
The Mozart Effect was a phenomena described in a book written by Don Campbell in 1997. The thesis of the book was that listening to Mozart would increase your IQ and your cognitive brain functioning. Much of the research in the book was based on work done by a French physician, Alfred Tomatis. Tomatis had treated over 10,000 patients using music and discovered that listening to Mozart improved spatial perception and language skills and decreased anxiety. Tomatis used Mozart music to treat these cognitive brain function problems but never claimed that the background music of Mozart would make you more intelligent. Campbell's book sensationalized the benefits of listening to Mozart and Many mothers invested tons of money on 'Baby Mozart' CDs.
The Mozart Effect was suspect even before the book was published. Most psychiatrist and cognitive therapist considered the Mozart movement a fad and the research in the book came under serious scrutiny after the book was published. Almost immediately Some researchers set out to test the claims of the book. Most studies were performed and the vast majority of the studies were unable to show permanent changes in IQ or cognitive brain function improvements from listening to any music even Mozart's. A few studies reported that any improvement in spatial perception, language skills or anxiety were transient and went away after the music stopped.
On a completely different note, it is interesting to me that we measure success of therapies such as behavioral therapy, music treatments and cognitive interventions by determining if the effects of the therapy persist after the treatment stops but we are happy to claim that drug treatments are a great success because they work while you are using them.
We would never say, "That medicine is simply worthless, you have to continue to take it to get continued benefits." but if you undergo a cognitive training program and the effects do not persist six month after the program (even though there was considerable improvements while you were doing the program) then the interventions is considered a failure. It makes you appreciate how powerful therapies like diet, sleep hygiene programs and exercises are as their benefits are long lasting.
It seems that Mozart has been demonstrated to help people, animals and even plants while they are listening but the effects stop if you do not listen. Studies in France have confirmed that dairy cows that have Mozart piped into their stalls give more milk. In Japan, Mozart is played in breweries, near the yeast used to make sake, and the Japanese report that the quality of the sake is greatly improved by this music. In Some language courses offered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Mozart is played because studies have found that language learning is improved when Mozart is piped into the classroom.
Musicologist theorize that the tempo and rhythm of Mozart is beneficial because it follows a pattern that the brain utilizes through auditory processing mechanisms to improve neurotransmission which in turn can improve signs and sympoms such as anxiety, language and spatial perception deficits..
Most people with ADHD prefer to work and Many ADHD Kids prefer to do their school work with music playing in the background. A recent study performed at the University of Dayton, found that background Mozart improved the accuracy of language processing and the speed of spatial processing. Though it is Mozart's Sonatas that are reported to give the best cognitive effects, this study used 10 different Mozart pieces that were of the same tempo and showed similar effects.
Music may help brain functioning at least while we are the background music of it. This may be reason enough to allow our Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children to listen to background music while they are studying. Unfortunately, our children rarely want to listen to Mozart. I am pretty sure that Rap music will not give us the same brain benefits that you get from playing Mozart but, then again, we have yet to study it.