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      A Sonata a Day Keeps the Baby Doctor Away

      New music therapy for premature babies: Playing Mozart helps them gain weight faster, according to Tel Aviv University researchers. How about rap?
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/11/2010, 3:48 PM / Last Update: 1/11/2010, 4:04 PM

      Tel Aviv University

      Tel Aviv University researchers have concluded that playing Mozart’s music helps premature babies gain weight faster than those who are not exposed to the 18th century classical music.

      Doctors Dror Mandel and Ronit Lubetzky of the Tel Aviv Medical Center treated the "preemies” under study to daily half-hour doses of Mozart. They found that the babies expended less energy, allowing them to gain weight faster than preemies who had to get through the day without the music. The researchers measured infants’ energy expenditure both before and after the music was played.

      Doctors say it is important for the preemies to gain weight as fast as possible in order to be discharged to a healthier home environment rather than remaining in the hospital, where they may be exposed to infections and other illnesses.

      It Might Be the Repetition
      “It’s not exactly clear how the music is affecting them, but it makes them calmer and less likely to be agitated,” says Dr. Mandel, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. “The repetitive melodies in Mozart’s music may be affecting the organizational centers of the brain’s cortex. Unlike Beethoven, Bach or Bartok, Mozart’s music is composed with a melody that is highly repetitive. This might be the musical explanation. For the scientific one, more investigation is needed.”

      Their study is the first to quantify the effect of music, specifically Mozart, on newborns. The research is based on a controversial 1993 study that showed that college students improved their IQs by listening to a Mozart sonata for ten minutes. When the study was reported, parents in the U.S. started buying Mozart CDs, hoping to boost their children’s brainpower.

      However, the researchers are not satisfied with sticking with Mozart. They also want to explore the effect of other music, including rap, which also has a pulsating and repetitive pattern. Researchers also want to survey mothers to find out if Mozart, or some other music, is beneficial to the embryo.