Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Tonya Bergeson-Dana


Music is often thought to have medicinal or therapeutic properties across a wide variety of disciplines. The purpose of this study was to determine whether pairing linguistic phrases with the same structure, or syntax, of music affects the speech production of individuals with non-fluent aphasia. Prior to any intervention, four individuals with non-fluent aphasia were assessed to determine mean length of utterance and syntactic complexity in everyday (formulaic) phrases and less-frequently used (non-formulaic) phrases. They were also given a pre-test designed to measure their understanding of music syntax. They then received three one-hour sessions of linguistic syntax therapy and three one-hour sessions of linguistic syntax therapy paired with a music component to match the syntax. Both forms of therapy (linguistic syntax or linguistic + music syntax) consisted of the formulaic and non-formulaic phrases. The phrases were divided into varying levels of syntactic complexity. For the linguistic + music syntax condition, the phrases were all set to music with a chord progression that matched the linguistic syntax complexity of the phrase. All participants received both levels of treatment and were assessed after each to determine MLU and parts of speech. Order of treatment was counterbalanced. We found that MLU increased after both linguistic and music syntax training, but that music syntax training provided a larger benefit. The number of nouns and verbs increased across training as well, but neither linguistic nor syntactic training provided a larger benefit. These results indicate that music syntax therapy enhances MLU but does not target any specific parts of speech.