Mozart for babies and video games for teens?

As a college student in cognitive neuroscience, I often encountered the science of cognitive development and thus the inevitable clichés such as the “Mozart effect” on babies.

Independently of what one thinks of the scientific validity of the phenomena, the Mozart Effect is still an interesting phenomena both from a neurocognitive and cultural point of view.

Music, with all its mythical, political, scientific and cultural aspects, is not getting enough attention as a cognitive effects tool in all areas of cognitive neuroscience.  And I know we have enough of variables to think about, and possible effects pathways, but how can we ignore such a crucial one?

So I have a proposition. A study, concerning video games, and the type of music they choose in relation to their cognitive benefit. A complex study perhaps, but an interesting one none the less.

It dawned on me when a former colleague described a song she heard from her son’s room. The soothing Gregorian choir she heard was from HALO 2. I recognized it quite well being the HALO fan that I am.

She couldn’t believe her ears. She had just assumed most games were filled with bleeping nonsense music that makes your brain go numb. She couldn’t imagine something that beautiful could be heard in a video game. I could. I’ve been gaming to beautiful symphonies most of my life.

In fact, I bet teenage gamers are the highest consumers of classical music today. Without even reflecting upon it themselves or having their parents reflect upon it either. Because the most original pieces of symphonic arrangements are no longer only found in classical halls, or even blockbusters, they’re found in computer and video games.

So, I started digging in my to favourite games; HALO series, Gears of War, Heavenly Sword, God of War, Enslaved etc etc. They all have powerful, melodic tunes which feature characteristics of great symphonies. In fact, classical orchestras or powerful compositions with intelligent arrangements are behind most of what is heard in the background of the game.

So could it be that not only the problem solving aspect of video games is the variable that enhances cognition in gamers, but the music they listen to while acquiring these skills? Is gaming the new Mozart for babies?

I don’t know. But I’d love to have the resources to find it out! 




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