Send to

Choose Destination
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 Apr;1252:318-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06465.x.

Music: a unique window into the world of autism.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Understanding emotions is fundamental to our ability to navigate the complex world of human social interaction. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience difficulties with the communication and understanding of emotions within the social domain. Their ability to interpret other people's nonverbal, facial, and bodily expressions of emotion is strongly curtailed. However, there is evidence to suggest that many individuals with ASD show a strong and early preference for music and are able to understand simple and complex musical emotions in childhood and adulthood. The dissociation between emotion recognition abilities in musical and social domains in individuals with ASD provides us with the opportunity to consider the nature of emotion processing difficulties characterizing this disorder. There has recently been a surge of interest in musical abilities in individuals with ASD, and this has motivated new behavioral and neuroimaging studies. Here, we review this new work. We conclude by providing some questions for future directions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center