Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Jessica Grahn


Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) involves synchronizing footsteps to music or a metronome thereby eliciting gait improvements in speed and stability among patients with Parkinson’s Disease. However, gait responses are inconsistent (Dalla Bella et al., 2017). Music enjoyment may influence gait responses, but exactly how it may do this has never been assessed. Moreover, individual differences in beat perception ability are likely to influence gait responses to music, particularly if instructed to synchronize to the beat. Here, we investigated whether music enjoyment influences gait, comparing responses based on beat perception ability (good vs poor) and instruction type (“walk freely” vs “synchronize to the beat”). Healthy young adults and older adults walked on a pressure sensor walkway in silence followed by music they had rated high and low in enjoyment, as well as a metronome. Participants were either instructed to ‘freely walk’ to the music or to ‘synchronize to the beat’. Music enjoyment had no differential effects on gait. Young adults walked faster with longer strides to music than to the metronome, whereas older adults walked faster, taking more steps per minute to the metronome than to music. When instructed to synchronize, young adults walked faster, but older adults walked slower. Finally, young adults with poor beat perception took shorter strides to the music, regardless of the instruction type, whereas older adults did not significantly differ based on beat perception ability. This study suggests that beat perception, instruction type, and age have more of an effect on gait responses than music enjoyment and should be considered to optimize RAS outcomes.