In reality, there has been no evidence of an improvement in cognitive abilities among children who had listened to classical music as babies. Initial research that shed light on music’s impact on the brain was conducted on a group of university students. Students who listened to a short clip of classical music were able to perform better on tasks that involved spatial geometry, like determining the shapes that would result from cutting a piece of paper folded on itself. The control groups were listening to meditative music or nothing at all. This effect however only lasted about 15 minutes and did not induce any long term effects. The music then only helps by providing some cognitive stimulus that energizes the brain. In which case, any other stimulus, such as exercise maybe could have the same effect.

Later studies have found that it is not just classical music that can enhance people’s ability to predict paper shapes, but any kind of music. A 2006 study revealed that children who listened to pop music performed these tricks better than those who listened to classical music. But again, this experiment was conducted on participants aged 10 or 11 years old and not on babies. This also shows that any stimulus and not just classical music can contribute to the brain’s short term abilities.

The research then on which this assumption has been based had no relation to babies. It improved students’ abilities to perform a paper folding task, but this does not allow us to make any conclusions about what effects it would have on their intelligence in general. The only way that music can actually enhance intelligence is if one learns to play it. Studies have shown that students who were trained in and played instruments showed better results in standardized academic tests.

Maintaining this myth appears to be of benefit to those companies producing and marketing products targeted at children. Moreover, it takes away from other functions that parents need to be undertaking towards their children’s development such as interacting with them and involving them in social situations.