Rather than passively listening to music, Rauscher advocates putting an instrument into the hands of a youngster to raise intelligence. She cites a 1997 University of California, Los Angeles, study that found, among 25,000 students, those who had spent time involved in a musical pursuit tested higher on SATs and reading proficiency exams than those with no instruction in music.Despite its rejection by the scientific community, companies like Baby Genius continue to peddle classical music to parents of children who can purportedly listen their way to greater smarts.
Chabris says the real danger isn't in this questionable marketing, but in parents shirking roles they are evolutionarily meant to serve. "It takes away from other kinds of interaction that might be beneficial for children," such as playing with them and keeping them engaged via social activity. That is the key to a truly intelligent child, not the symphonies of a long-dead Austrian composer.