How can music therapy improve attention?

Assessing the Impact of Music Therapy on Sensory Gating and Attention in Children with Autism: A Pilot and Feasibility Study

In an effort to progress understanding of physiological responses to music intervention, researchers from Colorado State University examined the impact of a music therapy protocol on sensory processing and attention in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As previous research has shown children with ASD often display needs in attention and react differently to visual, auditory, tactile, and movement stimuli, Lagasse et al. (2019) first examined the potential connection between the two. Using electroencephalographic (EEG) brain imaging technology, authors documented a correlation between attention and sensory processing abilities. More specifically, findings suggested that the brain’s ability to attend to tasks may relate to its ability to “ignore” irrelevant stimuli. After five weeks of participation in music therapy sessions specifically targeting attention skills, outcomes showed improvement in attention scores. Preliminary results indicated that music therapy intervention may benefit attention, especially selective attention, in children with ASD. Authors emphasized the preliminary nature of this study warrant further research on the topic.


LaGasse, A., B., Manning, R. C. B., Crasta, J. E., Gavin, W. J., & Davies, P. L. (2019). Assessing the impact of music therapy on sensory gating and attention in children with autism: A pilot and feasibility study. Journal of Music Therapy, 56(3), 287-314.