Named after the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791), this finding, first reported in the journal Nature in 1993 (pdf here) , said that listening to compositions by Mozart increases scores on tests of spatial ability for a short while.
In the original experiment, college students were given various tests after experiencing each of the following for ten minutes; listening to Mozart's sonata for two pianos in D major K488, listening to a relaxation tape, or silence. Performance on the paper-folding subtest of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scale was significantly better after listening to Mozart than after the other two treatments, but the effect dissipated after about 15 minutes, and other non-spatial tasks were unaffected.
The finding has been contested by other researchers and has been widely misinterpreted to imply that listening to Mozart, or just classical music in general, increases one's intelligence.
Several independent research studies have shown that children who receive extensive training in musical performance achieve significantly higher average scores on tests of spatial ability, but that long-term consequence is not the Mozart effect.