music therapy improve attention in adolescents with ASD

The Effect of Musical Attention Control Training (MACT) on Attention Skills of Adolescents with Neurodevelopmental Delays: A Pilot Study

While previous works have demonstrated music may benefit attention-related behaviors in individuals with ASD, researchers from Queens University of Charlotte and Colorado State University emphasized a lack of studies on specific music therapy protocols. Pasiali et al. (2014) examined the feasibility and impacts of Musical Attention Control Training (MACT; Thaut, 2005) on sustained attention, selective attention (focus on a specific stimuli when faced with distractors), and switching attention (focusing on two stimuli at the same time) on adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Participants engaged in eight, 45 minute group music therapy sessions over a six week period. Sessions incorporated playing of a variety instruments, such as xylophones and drums, in both structured and improvisatory manners, imitating patterns, engaging in body percussion, singing, and chanting. Results showing high consent and attendance rates indicated the protocol was feasible to implement. Study outcomes preliminarily showed participant improvements in selective and switching attention skills.


Pasiali, V., LaGasse, A. B., & Penn, S. L. (2014). The effect of musical attention control training (MACT) on attention skills of adolescents with neurodevelopmental delays: A pilot study. Journal of Music Therapy, 51(4), 333-354. doi:10.1093/jmt/thu030

Thaut, M. H. (2005). Rhythm music and the brain. New York: Routledge