Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Charles Ide

Second Advisor

Edward Roth


Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, is common in people who are 50 years of age or older. It is characterized by the loss of function of the substantia nigra in producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that allows for smooth and coordinated movement. Due to the lack of dopamine, an individual with PD experiences involuntary and stiff movements such as tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, postural instability, and abnormal gait patterns along with other motor symptoms. Over the years, the motor symptoms that are associated with PD progressively worsen; thus, limiting the individual’s independency and ability to perform daily tasks. Those with PD often lose their internal rhythm which results in the shorter strides and shuffling of the feet as they are walking; thus, their gait pattern is then altered.

Through the advances in medicine and technology, a technique called rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) has been shown to be one of the most successful nonconventional treatments for PD where it creates and maintains the biological rhythm of movement, primarily focusing on gait patterns, through the use of an external stimulus. RAS has the advantage of being both less invasive and affordable when being compared to conventional treatments such as the use of L-DOPA and deep brain surgery (DBS).

This thesis provides an overview of PD, how music influences the basal ganglia, a region found deep within the brain, along with a literature review of some studies conducted with the use of RAS on the gait pattern of patients with PD. Overall, the findings have shown that gait patterns of the patients, especially those in the early stages of PD, were improved upon when compared to the control group of healthy individuals. Although there have been positive effects, further research is needed in order to understand the influence of music on PD patients neurochemically as well as mechanically.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access