Logo
Logo

Goldsmiths - University of London

Do Musicians with Perfect Pitch Have More Autism Traits than Musicians without Perfect Pitch? An Empirical Study

Dohn, Anders; Garza-Villarreal, eduardo; Heaton, Pam F. and Vuust, Peter. 2012. Do Musicians with Perfect Pitch Have More Autism Traits than Musicians without Perfect Pitch? An Empirical Study. PLoS ONE, 7(5), e37961. [Article]

[img]
Preview
Text
Plos One AP paper 2012.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (364kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Perfect pitch, also known as absolute pitch (AP), refers to the rare ability to identify or produce a musical tone correctly without the benefit of an external reference. AP is often considered to reflect musical giftedness, but it has also been associated with certain disabilities due to increased prevalence of AP in individuals with sensory and developmental disorders. Here, we determine whether individual autistic traits are present in people with AP. We quantified subclinical levels of autism traits using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) in three matched groups of subjects: 16 musicians with AP (APs), 18 musicians without AP (non-APs), and 16 non-musicians. In addition, we measured AP ability by a pitch identification test with sine wave tones and piano tones. We found a significantly higher degree of autism traits in APs than in non-APs and non-musicians, and autism scores were significantly correlated with pitch identification scores (r = .46, p = .003). However, our results showed that APs did not differ from non-APs on diagnostically crucial social and communicative domain scores and their total AQ scores were well below clinical thresholds for autism. Group differences emerged on the imagination and attention switching subscales of the AQ. Thus, whilst these findings do link AP with autism, they also show that AP ability is most strongly associated with personality traits that vary widely within the normal population.

Item Type: Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037961

Additional Information:

This study was financially supported by The Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, the Danish Ministry of Culture, and the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN). The authors declare that the funders had no influence in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
30 May 2012Published
30 April 2012Accepted

Item ID:

19752

Date Deposited:

31 Jan 2017 10:29

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 15:41

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19752

View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)