Mozart Effect Cognitive Psychology

Attentional Blink

Cognitive Psychology


Stimuli are a type of motivation that causes a response in humans or animals.  The purpose of this research paper is to examine the attention blink, identify alternative targets for focus, identify occupations that attention blink causes mistakes, and consider that effect of vehicle design in relation to attention blink.  The next section discusses attention blink in relation to attention.

Attention blink (AB) is a phenomenon that occurs with rapid serial visual presentations (Dux & Marois, 2009).  In simpler terms when a set of objects is viewed by the eye in rapid succession only one set of objects will grab the attention of the brain and be processed, while the other objects are ignored.  According to Dux & Marois (2009), the key to attention is that the second object shows up 200-500 miliseconds after the first object.  This short timeframe makes the second object invisible to some viewers.  It stands to reason that if all the targets were at an interval that the brain can perceive such as 199 or 501 miliseconds then all targets will be visible.

This discovery is important when discussing the limitations of human attention during a series of distractions during a set time period (Dux & Marois, 2009).  “We conclude that the AB arises from attentional demands of T1 for selection, working memory encoding, episodic registration, and response selection, which prevents this high-level central resource from being applied to T2 at short T1-T2 lags (Dux & Marois, 2009).”  Another discovery was made concerning redeployment of attentional resources.

When the primary target is the individual’s focus the ability to redirect the attentional resources is extremely limited.  In fact the attentional resources will be redeployed on the third target because it takes longer to appear after the first target.  There is another theory that could account for the limited attentional resources present for the second target.

It is possible that the brain has been conditioned to pay attention to the most important objects or targets.  This is an interesting factor because what is important to one person may not be important to another person.  Alternative targets that can hold a person’s attention longer is the focus of the next section.

It was proposed previously by Dux and Marois (2009) that the importance of the target can cause the individual to pay closer attention regardless of the time frame constraints.  Signs and personal/familiar photos should be added as targets to the study.  People are conditioned to pay attention to signs because they provide helpful information and even prevent death.  The shape, the color, and the symbols on the signs are also important in the prolonged attention of the viewer.

For example: the biohazard sign as the second target would definitely be seen by the viewer.  First, this sign signals a warning to the viewer that something may be wrong.  Obviously, taking this test at school or at home this warning may be unfounded.  However, the basis for the signs still triggers a response in the individual’s brain to be alert for danger even when no danger exists.  The same is true for the stop sign.

The shape and the color of this sign represent halting before moving into traffic.  Even if the words are not present the other two factors would demand the same response and same level of attention. All humans have a set of basis needs and self-preservation is one of them (Huitt, 2007).  To ignore these signs when they manifest is to willingly admit that personal safety and survival are no longer important.  It is safe to assume that these types of targets will cause immediate focus for a prolonged period of time.

It is hypothesized that the second suggested target will cause an even longer and more immediate focal response: personal or familiar photos.  The brain associates pictures with memories and events that the individual has experienced.  For example: the picture of a baby will cause a mother to spend more time focused on it.  The baby picture can either be of the mother’s baby or a general picture of a baby.  The strong prolonged response will be the same.

An interesting proposed drawback concerning the personal or familiar photos comes from the emotional state of the viewer.  If the pictures evoke a negative memory the response from the brain could be to ignore the photos or forget them as quickly as possible?  The negative event could be a car accident, witnessing a murder, or experiencing a relationship breakup.  It is almost a fifty-fifty possibility for the viewer to either accept or reject the photographs.  The next section focuses on occupations where attention blink could cause problems.

Attention blink is all about paying attention and possibly missing the next target or object that appears after the first one.  AB would be detrimental in jobs that are fast paced and require focus on various objects or targets.  Bank teller, military personnel, and factory worker are the occupations that would be adversely affected by AB.

Bank tellers work in a fast paced environment with other people’s money.  It is important to keep track of the currency types, quantities, and numerical values.  It is possible that bank tellers counting at high speeds can miss at least one bill per stack of money that is counted in a given day.  Think about it, if 20 stacks were counted in one day than twenty bills have been missed in the counting process.

Military personnel specifically air force are required to take out targets on the ground or in the air while they are flying.  Flying is not a static situation but rather a fluid one that deals with turbulence, changing weather conditions, and the hazard of birds.  Because there are tracking systems and the new predator unmanned aircrafts these mistakes becomes less and less likely.  The same cannot be said for factory workers.

Factory workers deal with the responsibility of assembling, checking, and accepting or rejecting products.  This takes a matter of seconds when dealing with a moving conveyor belt and several different products to look over and then handle.  The implications in missing defective parts or misaligning a product during production includes: loss of life, lawsuits, and reduced funds for the company.  There are also recalls that may be issues because of the lack of attention given to certain products.  The next section focuses on the placement of devices within a vehicle.

Attention blink is not the only attention problem; humans also deal with divided attention.  Divided attention can be described as an individual that is trying to focus on two things at one time.  Another way to look at it would be associated with those individuals who claim to be multi-tasker and they accomplish multiple goals during specific time periods.

When operating a vehicle the driver already has divided attention in the form of watching other drivers, answering the cell phone (if applicable), and interacting with passengers in the vehicle.  Typically, individuals look down more easily than up when driving a vehicle so having the vital systems in the regular place would seem more useful.  In terms of attentional blink there is the likelihood of an accident occurring.

The driver would need to shift his or her attention from the road to the overhead displays.  This means quickly focusing on a certain gauge and then putting his or her eyes back on the road.  It is possible to miss warnings signs or miss traffic behaviors while performing this action.

Attentional blink is a means for the brain to process a primary target or a target that is perceived to be more important than other targets.  Identifying target importance can be a gained experience.  Alternative targets such as signs and photos (personal/familiar) can be a main influence in the length of time an individual pays attention during the study.  There are some occupations that are adversely affected by attentional blink such as factory workers.

The product passes in seconds who only gives the workers seconds for correct assembly and then inspection.  Lastly, divided attention or multitasking seems to be better than AB.  In a test with vehicles it is better to have divided attention and a low panel of instruments.  AB through further study has the potential to review the limitations of mankind concerning time and distractions.




Dux, P.E. and Marois, R. (2009). The attentional blink: A review of data and theory.  Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 71(8): 1683-1700. DOI: 10.3758/APP.71.8.1683

Huitt, W. (2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive.

Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS). (2014). Divided Attention.

Mozart Effect

Cognitive Psychology

  1. click here for more information on this paper



Research and conducting experiments is the most effective way possible to gain an answer. The type of research is based on the situation, the hypothesis, and the resources the individual or group has on hand. The purpose of this research paper is to examine the Mozart

Effect from two different journals and answer questions based on the research materials. The first article for examination is Music and spatial task performance.

The Mozart Effect is essentially a study to determine if music helps individuals to accomplish tasks better. Memory is definitely a factor in this study. Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, and Ky, hypothesized that a model of the brain and its pathways for neurons would prove that music and the ability to orient oneself with their environment can be seen using the same neural paths and they cover a large portion of the same areas in the brain.

A much simpler picture would be two cars driving down the same highway to get to similar locations. The actual terminology used is spatial task performance. A quick explanation of spatial ability is necessary to understand the important of the study. Spatial skill deals with comprehension and memory related to spaces among objects. This ability can be classified as an intelligence that is set apart from others such as verbal or reasoning. It can be considered a fluid type of trait that evolves over time as people have different life experiences. The significance of spatial ability is two-fold: in application and also in occupation. In terms of application it is related to a person’s ability to perform at least two tasks at the same time. For example: people who can eat and drive at the same time have developed this ability through spatial skill. Just like experience work has its spatial skill requirements. Occupations such as mathematics, natural sciences, and meteorology are included in the spatial skill classification. Notice that these types of occupations often require research. Two important components of research are the independent variable and the dependent variable. In this study the independent variables are: Mozart’s sonata, college students, and three year olds. The dependent variable in the study was memory of the participants. The researchers focused on Mozart’s sonata which was a controlled variable because it was the only type of music they used. This was necessary because the study itself was music specific i.e. Mozart’s sonata. There were two other controlled variables college students and three year olds.

Controlling age ranges was important to see how memory was affected in children and adults, namely to see who remembered the most information for the longest period of time.

The researchers presented data from two different studies: college students with improved short-term memory due to Mozart’s sonata, and three year olds with long-term advancements specifically in nonverbal cognitive abilities based on listening to Mozart’s sonata.

The evidence from this study was observable and valid. The researchers explained that infants possess the highest level of ability concerning memorization and the development of nonverbal cognitive skills. As a person ages brain elasticity lessens and it becomes harder for a person to grasp new material specifically memory recall and implementation. The evidence presented did justify the explanation and proved that music does travel along the same neural pathways as spatial ability. The following is another study based on the Mozart Effect.

A researcher named Jenkins analyzed the work that was done by Rauscher et al concerning the Mozart effect and how it helped to improve memory and spatial skills. There was an initial argument that “enjoyment arousal” was the only reason that participants did so well in the previous study. The two specific factors were the specific type of music and the participants’ appreciation for the music. For example if the participants consisted of teenagers with an urban background most likely they would respond more positively to rap music.

In order to adequately test the challenge hypothesis animal experiments were conducted on pregnant rats. The specified time frame was 60 days. The types of music the rats were exposed to consisted of: Mozart’s piano sonata K448, limited music by Philip Glass, white noise, and silence. After the exposure was complete and the rats were born they were put to another test through maze navigation.

Interestingly, enough the findings from the maze navigation revealed that the rats exposed to the Mozart sonata were the quickest and most accurate of the three groups. This was very significant because it proves that Mozart’s sonata or the Mozart Effect was real, provable, and provided a positive effect on memory. Another study was conducted that was not related to spatial skill performance or maze navigation; it involved individuals suffering from epilepsy. The study was conducted with 29 patients, 23 suffered from focal discharges and bursts/spikes. When the epileptic patients listened to Mozart’s piano sonata K448 there was a noticeable decrease in epileptic activity recorded on the electroencephalogram. The study was then narrowed down to one male who was unconscious. Listening to the selected music it was visible that his actual patterns went from 62% to 21% a definite improvement. Mozart K.448 was also effective in reducing the effects of epilepsy in children. Specifically, the result was a reduction in the frequency of the epileptic episode. This study has merit for these three reasons it proves the Mozart Effect is real, it proves the Mozart Effect is not based on appreciation of the music per the unborn rats’ performance in the maze after 60 day exposure, and the Mozart Effect is not limited to spatial skill performance or memory it can also reduce the effects of epilepsy in some patients. The study did not take into account an individual’s spatial ability. In this particular case it appeared that all the rats had the ability to navigate the maze. There was no indication that any of the rats were either physically or mentally impaired. The only different encountered was the type of music or lack thereof that they were exposed to Mozart’s sonata, Philip Glass, white noise and silence. The study conducted with the epileptic patients was not about their spatial ability but rather about the reduction in their episodes. This study can be generalized in two ways: using different types of rats and using different types of classical music. The first study only dealt with seemingly healthy rats. In order to generalize this study all types of rats should be used in order to test their spatial skills.

These are the types of rats in particular that should be used for the study’s generalization: mentally unstable/deficient rats, physically deformed rats, rats that have suffered some type of injury, rats that are blind/partially blind, deaf/partially deaf, and lastly healthy rats. Another set of rats that could be used in the study would be malnourished rats as well as obese rats.

With this many rats listening to the three musical selections plus silence a broader inference can be made concerning Mozart’s sonata and its effects on rats’ negotiation a maze. The study concerning the epileptic patients would include additional types of classical music not just Mozart’s sonata.

The classical music can come from any composer Bach, Brahms, Chopin, and even consist of different types of Mozart’s music. The idea is to find out if epileptic episodes can be decreased with all types of classical music or simply Mozart’s sonata. Even then would different types of Mozart’s music make a difference in the epileptic episodes? Taking the situation further the types of instruments in used in the classical music may have an effect as well.

It was previously stated that the Mozart piece was piano. It could be inferred that all classical pieces that use piano can decrease epileptic episodes. Another generalization is that any type of piano music in the soothing category lacking words could have a positive effect on epileptic episode reduction. The type of epileptic just like the rats could be a defining factor. Does the effect only work on patients with server epilepsy or does it work on all types of epileptic patients?

The conclusion of this study is that the Mozart Effect is real, attestable, and it creates positive results in the participants. The first study was based on college students and three year olds in relation to spatial skill. It was proven that the younger the individual the easier it is to remember information in association with listening to Mozart’s sonata. The college students on the other hand only retain increased memory in the short-term. It was also proven that music itself and spatial skill travel along the same neurological pathways in the brain. The concept of the study was later challenged with the express argument that any piece of music can be used to make people smarter if they only appreciate the piece. In other words individuals who like jazz would be able to remember things more frequently because they listen to jazz and like it.




Jenkins, J.S. (2001). The Mozart effect. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 94, 170-172

JHU. (n.d.). What is spatial ability?  Retrieved September 9, 2014 from

Lin, L.C., Lee, W. T., Wu, H. C., Tsai, C. L., Wei, R.C., Mok, H.K., Weng, C. F., Lee, M. W., &

Yang, R.C. (2011). The long-term effect of listening to Mozart K.448 decreases epileptiform discharges in children with epilepsy.  Epilepsy Behavior 21(4): 420-450. DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.05.015

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., & Ky, K. N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature,

  1. 6447: 611. (October 14, 1993). (ProQuest Document ID 76004658).

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