Research indicates that listening to the music of Mozart may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of mental tasks known as “spatial-temporal reasoning”—and may even raise the intelligence quotient (IQ) of the listener. Indeed, neuroscientists have shown that music has the ability to bring about a wide range of benefits, including altering the structure of molecules in the body, unlocking memories (at least temporarily) in Alzheimer’s patients, restoring motor skills, reducing stress and pain, and improving brain functions.
The field of neuroscience has also discovered that listening to a specific classical piece for 15 seconds can instantly make an individual more creative and innovative, and even feel a little happier.
Scientists at Radboud University conducted a study consisting of 5 groups of people, with each group randomly assigned to listen to one of 4 classical music pieces – or sit in silence — before and while doing tasks that require creativeness.
The 4 music pieces (which include The Swan by Saint-Saens, The Four Seasons: Spring by Vivaldi, The Planets: Mars, The Bringer of War by Gustav Holst, and Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber) were selected for their “mood and arousal” levels.
The creativity task given to the test subjects focused on divergent thinking, a thought process used to generate innovative ideas by way of exploring multiple possible solutions to a problem. It is believed that the music travels through the brain’s auditory cortex directly to the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses, hormonal secretions, motivation, pleasure, and pain.
It is this mechanism that enhances divergent thinking, which is “the key to scientific, technological, and cultural fields because innovation often pairs disparate ideas,” according to the authors of the study.
The group that produced the most — and the best — solutions to the creativity test is the group that listened to The Four Seasons: Spring by Vivaldi, an upbeat and happy music piece. It activated increased levels of “fluency and flexibility,” a mindset that creates the ideal platform for developing unique ideas.
Curiously, though, researchers found that it did not matter whether subjects recognized the music piece, or even whether they liked it.
Next time you engage in any endeavor that requires the brainstorming of innovative ideas, creativity, or unique problem-solving, you might want to listen to the Vivaldi classical piece for 15 seconds or more, or let it play as background music — and watch what happens.