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Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 23;8(1):231. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0287-3.

Music improves social communication and auditory-motor connectivity in children with autism.

Author information

1
International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Pavilion Marie-Victorin, 90 Avenue Vincent D'Indy, Montreal, QC, H2V 2S9, Canada. megha.sharda@umontreal.ca.
2
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM), Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Rabinovitch House, 3640 de la Montagne, Montreal, QC, H3G 2A8, Canada. megha.sharda@umontreal.ca.
3
International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Pavilion Marie-Victorin, 90 Avenue Vincent D'Indy, Montreal, QC, H2V 2S9, Canada.
4
Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music (CRBLM), Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Rabinovitch House, 3640 de la Montagne, Montreal, QC, H3G 2A8, Canada.
5
Westmount Music Therapy, 4695 Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Westmount, QC, H3Z 1S4, Canada.
6
School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 2001 Avenue McGill College, Montréal, QC, H3A 1G1, Canada.

Abstract

Music has been identified as a strength in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder; however, there is currently no neuroscientific evidence supporting its benefits. Given its universal appeal, intrinsic reward value and ability to modify brain and behaviour, music may be a potential therapeutic aid in autism. Here we evaluated the neurobehavioural outcomes of a music intervention, compared to a non-music control intervention, on social communication and brain connectivity in school-age children (ISRCTN26821793). Fifty-one children aged 6-12 years with autism were randomized to receive 8-12 weeks of music (n = 26) or non-music intervention (n = 25). The music intervention involved use of improvisational approaches through song and rhythm to target social communication. The non-music control was a structurally matched behavioural intervention implemented in a non-musical context. Groups were assessed before and after intervention on social communication and resting-state functional connectivity of fronto-temporal brain networks. Communication scores were higher in the music group post-intervention (difference score = 4.84, P = .01). Associated post-intervention resting-state brain functional connectivity was greater in music vs. non-music groups between auditory and subcortical regions (z = 3.94, P < .0001) and auditory and fronto-motor regions (z = 3.16, P < .0001). Post-intervention brain connectivity was lower between auditory and visual regions in the music compared to the non-music groups, known to be over-connected in autism (z = 4.01, P < .00001). Post-intervention brain connectivity in the music group was related to communication improvement (z = 3.57, P < .0001). This study provides the first evidence that 8-12 weeks of individual music intervention can indeed improve social communication and functional brain connectivity, lending support to further investigations of neurobiologically motivated models of music interventions in autism.

PMID:
30352997
PMCID:
PMC6199253
DOI:
10.1038/s41398-018-0287-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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