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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2013 Sep;57(9):850-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01611.x. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Musical learning in children and adults with Williams syndrome.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA. miriam.lense@vanderbilt.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is recent interest in using music making as an empirically supported intervention for various neurodevelopmental disorders due to music's engagement of perceptual-motor mapping processes. However, little is known about music learning in populations with developmental disabilities. Williams syndrome (WS) is a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder whose characteristic auditory strengths and visual-spatial weaknesses map onto the processes used to learn to play a musical instrument.

METHODS:

We identified correlates of novel musical instrument learning in WS by teaching 46 children and adults (7-49 years) with WS to play the Appalachian dulcimer.

RESULTS:

Obtained dulcimer skill was associated with prior musical abilities (r = 0.634, P < 0.001) and visual-motor integration abilities (r = 0.487, P = 0.001), but not age, gender, IQ, handedness, auditory sensitivities or musical interest/emotionality. Use of auditory learning strategies, but not visual or instructional strategies, predicted greater dulcimer skill beyond individual musical and visual-motor integration abilities (β = 0.285, sr(2) = 0.06, P = 0.019).

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings map onto behavioural and emerging neural evidence for greater auditory-motor mapping processes in WS. Results suggest that explicit awareness of task-specific learning approaches is important when learning a new skill. Implications for using music with populations with syndrome-specific strengths and weakness will be discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Williams syndrome; auditory-motor mapping; mirror neuron system; music

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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