The idea that music makes you smarter received considerable attention from scientists and the media. Listening to music or playing an instrument can actually make you learn better. And research confirms this.

Persistent patterns of brain activity: An EEG coherence study of the positive effect of music on spatial-temporal reasoning

Sarnthein J, vonStein A, Rappelsberger P, Petsche H, Rauscher FH, Shaw GL. Persistent patterns of brain activity: an EEG coherence study of the positive effect of music on spatial-temporal reasoning. Neurol Res. 1997 Apr;19(2):107-16. PubMed

Motivated by predictions from the structured trion model of the cortex, behavioral experiments have demonstrated a causal short-term enhancement ofspatial-temporal reasoning in college students following exposure to a Mozart sonata, but not in control conditions. The coherence analysis of electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings is well suited to the neurophysiological investigation of this behavioral enhancement. Here we report the presence of right frontal and left temporo-parietal coherent activity induced by listening to Mozart which carried over into the spatial-temporal tasks in three of our seven subjects. This carry-over effect was compared to EEG coherence analysis of spatial-temporal-tasks after listening to text. We suggest that these EEG coherence results provide the beginnings of understanding of the neurophysiological basis of the causal enhancement of spatial-temporal reasoning by listening to specific music. The observed long-lasting coherent fEG pattern might be evidence for structured sequences in cortical dynamics which extend over minutes. Neural Res 1997; 19: 107–116]