ADHD, Background Music and Homework

Published: 18th February 2011
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Kids with ADD and ADHD often prefer to have background music playing when they are doing their homework or working. Parents are often worried that music will be yet another distraction that keeps these ADHD Young people 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 Some specific brain benefits that may come to us from playing 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 cheap price to pay to make that Georgia infant a genius.

The Mozart Effect was a phenomena described in a book written by Don Campbell in 1997. The thesis of the book was that the background music of 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 confirmed 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 playing Mozart would make you a person with superior intelligence. Campbell’s book sensationalized the potential benefits of listening to Mozart and A great many mothers invested tons of money on 'Baby Mozart' CDs.

The Mozart Effect was suspect even before the book was published. A large number of 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 A few researchers set out to test the claims of the book. A great many studies were performed and the vast majority of the studies discovered|showed|demonstrated} no permanent changes in IQ or cognitive brain function improvements from the background music of any music even Mozart's. Some 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 interventions and cognitive treatments by determining if the effects of the interventions persist after the treatment stops but we are happy to claim that medicine 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 treatments 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 A few language courses offered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Mozart is played because studies have confirmed that language learning is improved when Mozart is piped into the classroom.

Musicologist theorize that the tempo and rhythm of Mozart is useful because it follows a pattern that the brain utilizes through auditory processing mechanisms to improve neurotransmission which in turn can improve problems such as anxiety, language and spatial perception deficits..

Many people with ADHD prefer to work and A great many ADHD Young people prefer to do their school homework with music playing in the background. A recent study performed at the University of Dayton, demonstrated 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 demonstrated 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 ADD Kids to listen to background music while they are studying. Unfortunately, our children rarely want to listen to Mozart. I am pretty sure that music by Taylor Swift will not give us the same brain benefits that you get from listening to Mozart but, then again, we have yet to study it.

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