Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Robert F. Young


In previous studies, it has been suggested that ultrasound may be the mechanism behind the success of Dolphin Assisted Therapy programs. This study was conducted to determine whether advertising these positive effects of dolphin produced ultrasound to prospective patients will elicit a placebo effect of improving cognitive function. A memory matching task was designed to measure cognitive task completion efficiency, and completion times were recorded in seconds. Participants were divided into two groups, Group A completing the task under normal, or control conditions first, and under the mock "ultrasound" condition second, while Group B received the mock "ultrasound" condition first and the control second. The results of the study suggest that the first trial, regardless of variable, elicited a placebo effect. However, the second trial regardless of variable showed that completion times improved overall, suggesting that learning occurred across trials. The hypothesis that a placebo effect would not exist was supported by the statistical comparison of trial times by variable, which was not significant (P=0.21, dependent t-test). This allows for further research into ultrasound as a potential mechanism for the success of Dolphin Assisted Therapy Programs.

Included in

Oceanography Commons