Does Music Make You Smarter?

Sam Mehr

In a recent New York Times article, published December 22, 2013, Samuel Mehr, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, summarized his recent work on the cognitive benefits of music education. "Does music make you smarter?" he asks. Mehr, along with his colleagues conducted two new randomized trials with preschoolers and parents at Harvard's Laboratory for Developmental Studies. Their conclusion? "We found no evidence that a brief series of parent-child music classes improved preschoolers' cognitive skills," states Mehr. However, Mehr goes on to say that "even if future studies fail to support the existence of music's cognitive benefits, this should not deter parents from providing their children with music lessons."

Samuel Mehr's paper (written with Adena Schachner, Rachel Katz, and Elizabeth Spelke) "Two Randomized Trials Provide No Consistent Evidence for Nonmusical Cognitive Benefits of Brief Preschool Music Enrichment" is available in DASH.

Photo by Gerry Szymanski