International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Music based intervention in autism: a framework

Music based intervention in autism: a framework

Saturday, May 17, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
S. Baijal , Centre for Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India
N. Khetrapal , Centre for Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India
Background: Autism involves problems in communication and social interaction that results in impairments in linguistic abilities. Objectives: Although several music therapy interventions have been useful with these individuals, the mechanisms remain to be unclear. Methods: The present paper examines the effects of music therapy on autistics and the relationship between music and cognition. Results: A framework explaining processes underlying beneficial effects of music has been proposed that comprises of two components – mood-based effects and language-based effects. The positive mood induced by music has been elucidated in several studies which has direct impact on automatic processes impaired in autism. Moreover, the mood effects of music also modulate the neurochemical functioning such as in the dopaminergic system which is dysfunctional in the disorder. Language-based effects of music have been investigated to observe similarities in the temporal dynamics of language and music as well as the general cognitive principles involved in syntactic processing of language and harmonic processing of music. This exemplifies the close correspondence between music and language. Neuroimaging techniques have allowed documentation of plastic changes due to learning from prolonged exposure to music. Conclusions: The behavioral plasticity observed with music-based interventions occurs due to the combined effects of efficient functioning of the automatic processes and language subsystems. Further systematic testing of these components is required to confirm and expand the preliminary proposed framework.
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