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J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Apr;48(4):1350-1358. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2517-3.

Autistic Traits and Enhanced Perceptual Representation of Pitch and Time.

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Psychology, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, Scotland, UK.
Auditory Group, Institute of Neuroscience, Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, England, UK.


Enhanced basic perceptual discrimination has been reported for pitch in individuals with autism spectrum conditions. We test whether there is a correlational pattern of enhancement across the broader autism phenotype and whether this correlation occurs for the discrimination of pitch, time and loudness. Scores on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient correlated significantly with the pitch discrimination (r = -0.51, p < 0.05) and the time-interval discrimination (r = -0.45, p < 0.05) task that were based on a fixed reference. No correlation was found for intensity discrimination based on a fixed reference, nor for a variable reference based time-interval discrimination. The correlations suggest a relationship between autistic traits and the ability to form an enhanced, stable and highly accurate representation of auditory events in the pitch and time dimensions.


Audition; Autism-Spectrum Quotient; Enhanced representation; Loudness; Pitch; Sensory processing; Time


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