It's a shame that it took us 17 years to put the "Mozart makes you smart" meme to rest. I wonder how much money in research grants was wasted over the years (40 studies!) on the question. So, a big thanks to Pietschnig, Voracek, and Formann for debunking the Mozart-effect theory. I predict that the theory will -unfortunately- survive in popular culture, for a long time to come; but if it leads to people learning to enjoy good music, it might be worth it.
Mozart effect–Shmozart effect: A meta-analysis
Jakob Pietschnig et al.
The transient enhancement of performance on spatial tasks in standardized tests after exposure to the first movement “allegro con spirito” of the Mozart sonata for two pianos in D major (KV 448) is referred to as the Mozart effect since its first observation by Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky (1993). These findings turned out to be amazingly hard to replicate, thus leading to an abundance of conflicting results. Sixteen years after initial publication we conduct the so far largest, most comprehensive, and up-to-date meta-analysis (nearly 40 studies, over 3000 subjects), including a diversity of unpublished research papers to finally clarify the scientific record about whether or not a specific Mozart effect exists. We could show that the overall estimated effect is small in size (d = 0.37, 95% CI [0.23, 0.52]) for samples exposed to the Mozart sonata KV 448 and samples that had been exposed to a non-musical stimulus or no stimulus at all preceding spatial task performance. Additionally, calculation of effect sizes for samples exposed to any other musical stimulus and samples exposed to a non-musical stimulus or no stimulus at all yielded effects similar in strength (d = 0.38, 95% CI [0.13, 0.63]), whereas there was a negligible effect between the two music conditions (d = 0.15, 95% CI [0.02, 0.28]). Furthermore, formal tests yielded evidence for confounding publication bias, requiring downward correction of effects. The central finding of the present paper however, is certainly the noticeably higher overall effect in studies performed by Rauscher and colleagues than in studies performed by other researchers, indicating systematically moderating effects of lab affiliation. On the whole, there is little evidence left for a specific, performance-enhancing Mozart effect.