Transposition Ability in a Young Musician With Autism and Blindness: Testing Cognitive Models of Autism

Boso, Marianna; Forth, Jamie; Bordin, Annamaria; Faggioli, Raffaella; D'Angelo, Egidio; Politi, Pierluigi; Barale, Francesco and Heaton, Pam F.. 2013. Transposition Ability in a Young Musician With Autism and Blindness: Testing Cognitive Models of Autism. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 23(2), pp. 109-116. ISSN 0275-3987 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Although researchers have investigated absolute pitch and musical memory in individuals with cooccurring autism, congenital blindness, and exceptional musical ability, relatively little is known about other aspects of their musical talent. While anecdotal evidence suggests that these individuals possess an enhanced ability to reproduce heard melodies in different keys, transposition ability has yet to be tested experimentally. We compared the transposition skills of a 17-year-old autistic and congenitally blind pianist (GN) with those of a group of typically developing sighted controls with similar level of musical expertise. Participants were presented with a simple piece of piano music for learning and 1 week later were asked to perform the piece in its original key (C major) and in transposition. All transpositions were recorded and scored for accuracy and fluency. In contrast to the control group, who showed highly constrained transposition skill, GN was able to transpose across a wide range of keys with a constant level of fluency. Our study is the first to our knowledge to systematically investigate and demonstrate enhanced transposition in a musician with autism and congenital blindness. Our results are discussed in the context of enhanced perceptual functioning (Mottron et al., 2006) and hyper systemizing (Baron- Cohen et al., 2009) accounts of exceptional skills in autism.

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20 July 2012Submitted
6 June 2013Accepted
6 June 2013Published

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02 Feb 2017 17:41

Last Modified:

07 Jun 2021 14:33

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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