The "Mozart effect" has been in vogue for a number of years. It's the theory that exposing young children to the intricate symmetries of the composer's sonatas can enhance intellectual ability. Believers range from countless parents to the former governor of Georgia, Zell Miller (D), who ordered that every newborn baby in his state be given a classical-music CD.
An idea as simple - some would say simplistic - as this was bound to find detractors. One of them, Harvard neuropsychologist Christopher Chabris, has analyzed all the studies that support the theory and found them wanting.
Our own intuition is that exposure to any great music that is calming, inspiring, and hints at the vast range of intelligence can surely help both kids and adults.
But a Mozart CD is no substitute for learning projects that challenge the budding intellect or for the loving, nurturing attention of parents and teachers.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society