Facing The Music

A visit to the colonoscopist’s studio to make that personal video is probably towards the bottom of most peoples rainy day activities list, ranking along with going to the dentists to get those pesky wisdom teeth removed.

The purpose of the exercise is not the entertainment value of the video, but to aid in the great adenoma hunt. Those pre-cancerous polyps have to be harvested. They are not always easy to spot and detection rates can vary depending on who is driving the endoscope.

There is a folk myth called the “Mozart Effect” which indicates that people’s performance at their favorite function is enhanced when music written by the maestro is pumped into their shell-like appendages. O’Shea and Wolf of Texas U decided to put this to the test with their local endoscope artistes(1).

The report published by UPI.com, whose banner stresses that they have over 100 years of journalistic excellence so this is “the goods, ” reports that the competition between two endoscopists, each with 1,000+ colonoscopies under their belts where baselined at detections rates of 21% and 27%. 

Results? Endoscopist A  hit a success rate of 67% with Mozart and then slipped to a mere 30% sans Mozart. Clearly a “Mozart effect.” Endoscopist B hit 37% with Mozart lending a helping hand but peaked to 40% when working without his help. Clearly a “non-Mozart effect.”

Now this is all very exciting and perhaps says nothing more than Mozart fans may work better when plugged in to their faves, and folk myths are just that, myths. The BIG questions that I have are
i.              what is the pass rate for a successful detector of potential cancer – even 67% doesn’t seem to be a passing grade,
ii.            who determined the adenoma numbers that corresponded to 100% and how did they do it. Perhaps it's their technique that should be explored rather than the music selection on the operator’s iPod Touch.

  1. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2011/10/31/Mozart-may-improve-doctors-colon-results/UPI-95761320114725/?spt=hs&or=hn
  2. http://www.improbable.com/  for Nov.1, 2011

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