The effects of music on spatial reasoning

  • Caterina Padulo
  • Nicola Mammarella
  • Alfredo Brancucci
  • Mario Altamura
  • Beth FairfieldEmail author
Original Article


Studies on the effects of music on spatial reasoning report conflicting results. Some studies show slight effects, and others show no effects but few seem to replicate the strong findings of the first study published in Rauscher et al. Nature, 365(6447), 611–612, (1993). Nonetheless, the debate about the performance enhancing “Mozart effect” remains to be of great interest. In this study, we manipulated different physical parameters of sound traces (amplitude and frequency) to investigate whether particular dimensions may explain the enhancement effects found in spatial tasks following music listening. To this end, we asked 179 undergraduates and 183 older adults to listen to 5-min sound traces (Mozart KV 448, amplitude modulation tone, frequency modulation tone, white noise) and then complete a spatial reasoning task. In particular, results showed that repetitive frequency changes, as occurring in Mozart’s melodies or in a frequency modulation tone, enhance performance.


Author contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: CP BF AB. Performed the experiments: CP BF. Analyzed data: CP BF. Wrote the manuscript: CP BF. Discussed results and provided comments: CP BF AB NM.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors disclose no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial SciencesUniversity of ChietiChietiItaly
  2. 2.CeSI-Met, University of ChietiChietiItaly
  3. 3.Psychiatry Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly

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