Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Teresa L. Lesiuk

Second Committee Member

Shannon K. de l'Etoile

Third Committee Member

Saneya H. Tawfik


The purpose of this study was to examine the performance of individuals with alcohol dependence on a music-based cognitive rehabilitation protocol (MBCR), and to examine the relationship between degree of impulsivity and performance on the MBCR. Twenty adults with a primary diagnosis of alcohol dependence or polysubstance dependence participated in the study. Each participant first completed a 14-minute computerized assessment of impulsivity and then took part in one, 25-minute individual music session during which they completed four different MBCR exercises. Included in the MBCR were a Five-Finger exercise, Bordun exercise, Rhythm Repetition exercise, and Song Playing exercise. Participants’ performances on each of the MBCR exercises were scored using a rubric which included 1 (poor), 2 (fair), 3 (good), or 4 (excellent), for a total possible score of 16. Results indicated that participants’ impulsivity, as measured by Perseverations and Hit Reaction Time (Hit RT) on the Continuous Performance Test (Conners, 2007) as well as a Total Impulsivity composite score, was significantly greater than a normative group. In regards to performance on the MBCR, participants scored the highest on the Song Playing exercise, and performed most poorly on the Bordun exercise. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed that participants’ performance on the Song Playing exercise was significantly better than on the Five-Finger, Bordun, and Rhythm Repetition exercises. Bivariate correlation was used to examine relationships between scores of CPT impulsivity measures, Total Impulsivity, the rubric scores for the four MBCR exercises, and a composite Total Rubric score. Significantly negative correlations were found between Hit RT and Commission Errors, Perseverations and Total Impulsivity, Perseverations and the Rhythm Repetition exercise, and Total Impulsivity and the Rhythm Repetition exercise. Significantly positive correlations were found between Hit RT and the Song Playing exercise, Commission Errors and the Bordun exercise, the Five-finger exercise and Total Rubric, and the Rhythm Repetition exercise and Total Rubric score. Because all of the MBCR exercises required different types of attentional control, analysis of the relationships between participants’ impulsivity (as measured by Hit RT, Commission Errors, Perseverations, and Total Impulsivity) and performance on the MBCR implicate attention deficits as being related to impulsivity in individuals with alcohol dependence. Despite the presence of attention deficits, all participants were able to complete the entire MBCR protocol with scores of 2, 3, or 4 on all exercises. Therefore, music may be able to prime attention in individuals with alcohol dependence, which may be useful in addressing impulsivity in therapeutic treatment environments.


music therapy; alcohol dependence; impulsivity; impulse control; cognitive rehabilitation