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J Music Ther. 2014 Winter;51(4):333-54. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thu030.

The effect of musical attention control training (MACT) on attention skills of adolescents with neurodevelopmental delays: a pilot study.

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Queens University of Charlotte Colorado State University Queens University of Charlotte
Queens University of Charlotte Colorado State University Queens University of Charlotte.



Given the effect of musical training on the rate and accuracy of processing auditory information, therapeutic uses of music may potentially have remedial benefits for individuals with neurodevelopmental deficits. However, additional studies are needed to establish efficacy of music therapy interventions for attention skills in children/adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).


To establish feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a group music therapy protocol to improve attention skills (sustained, selective, attentional control/switching) in adolescents diagnosed with autism and/or developmental delays.


This single group pretest/posttest study took place in a private school for high functioning adolescents with neurodevelopmental delays. Nine students (4 males, 5 females), ages 13 to 20, participated in the study. Autism severity was assessed using the CARS2-HF and indicated the following distribution for study participants: severe (n = 3), mild (n = 4), or minimal/no (n = 2) symptoms. We assessed feasibility of implementing a 45-min Musical Attention Control Training (MACT) intervention delivered by a board-certified music therapist eight times over 6 weeks in a school setting. We also examined preliminary efficacy of the MACT to improve attention skills using the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch).


Parental consent rate was 100%. All nine participants successfully completed testing measures and 6 weeks of the intervention. Average participation rate was 97%. Data analysis showed positive trends and improvements on measures of attentional control/switching and selective attention.


The results showed that the intervention and testing measures were feasible to implement and acceptable to the participants who all completed the protocol. Data analysis demonstrated positive trends indicating that more research on the use of music therapy attention training in high-functioning adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities is warranted.


attention; autism spectrum disorders; music therapy; neurodevelopmental disorder

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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