Should children be exposed to classical music

Neuroscience: childhood music is good retirement planning

Of course, you can play Mozart for your unborn child. Also a lot and often - the “Little Night Music”, the “Magic Flute” or the piano sonatas. But it doesn't have to be classical at all, because unborn babies aren't picky: AC / DC, DJ Bobo or Queens of the Stoneage are equally good at them. All music will have an impact on the child's little brain - although it may not be the one you intended.

The once so much invoked Mozart effect, which supposedly ensures that unborn babies become smarter by listening to classical music, has been thoroughly refuted. Nevertheless, you can turn up the system. One study shows that after birth babies recognize a melody that was played repeatedly when they were still in their wombs. And music and making music in childhood has been shown to have positive effects on the brain, with consequences well into old age. And anyone who played an instrument as a child can still hear words better as an adult. In any case, there is a close connection between language and music. But one after anonther.

The ear listens early on

Everything starts in the womb. In the eighth week of pregnancy, the fetus begins to develop the brain. The ear hears from the fifth month, and from the sixth month individual areas of the brain enlarge. The areas that are responsible for processing external stimuli develop first. The brain activity of fetuses can already be measured in this phase. In the seventh month of pregnancy, the child's brain distinguishes between noises - and reacts if interested.

There are fetuses like adults, says Hubert Preissl. He heads work on the fetal magnetoencephalograph at the University of Tübingen. This is the only device outside of the United States to measure magnetic signals from fetal brain activity. "If I keep saying 'Bababa' to an adult, at some point they will no longer react," says Preissl. It is the same with the brain of the fetus: a new noise initially arouses pronounced interest, later it is no longer so exciting. But if a song is played to the fetus over and over again, then the neurons in the brain establish a connection. A memory trail is formed.

But that is not proof of the Mozart myth and the promotion of intelligence through classical music, says Preissl. Because positive consequences for the later learning of the child could not be derived from such memory traces. Preissl says that the child does not even necessarily have a preference for the music that is heard in the mother's womb. The only thing that is certain is that children react in a specific way to music played more frequently during pregnancy after birth.

Acoustically preloaded

Eino Partanen from the University of Helsinki investigated this. For his study, he let fetuses hear the nursery rhyme “Twinkle twinkle little star” five times a week from the 29th week of pregnancy. Four months after the birth, he and his colleagues attached EEG sensors to the babies' heads. She was allowed to hear the "Twinkle" song again, but with the notes changed in some places. The modified song was also heard by a comparison group of newborn babies of the same age who were not familiar with the music.

The EEG sensors recorded significantly greater brain activity in the children who had already heard the song during pregnancy. Apparently the children recognized the music and also registered that the melody had been modified. This makes it clear that a child is born acoustically preloaded: "There are numerous memory traces of sounds of the later mother tongue and the ambient noises in the brain," says Eino Partanen.