Why Does Music Therapy Help in Autism?
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Publisher:Empirical Musicology Review
Citation:Empirical Musicology Review, v4 n1 (January 2009), 11-18
Music therapy is shown to be an effective intervention for emotional recognition deficits in autism. However, researchers to date have yet to propose a model that accounts for the neurobiological and cognitive components that are responsible for such improvements. The current paper outlines a model whereby the encoding of tonal pitch is proposed as the underlying mechanism. Accurate tonal pitch perception is important for recognizing emotions like happiness and sadness in the auditory domain. Once acquired, the ability to perceive tonal pitch functions as a domain-specific module that proves beneficial for music cognition. There is biological preparedness for the development of such a module and it is hypothesized to be preserved in autism. The current paper reinforces the need to build intervention programs based on this preserved module in autism, and proposes that this module may form the basis for a range of benefits related to music therapy. Possible brain areas associated with this module are suggested.
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