Research note: Exceptional absolute pitch perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism

Heaton, Pam F.; Davis, Robert E. and Happe, Francesca. 2008. Research note: Exceptional absolute pitch perception for spoken words in an able adult with autism. Neuropsychologia, 46(7), pp. 2095-2098. ISSN 00283932 [Article]

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Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterised by deficits in socialisation and communication, with repetitive and stereotyped behaviours [American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: APA]. Whilst intellectual and language impairment is observed in a significant proportion of diagnosed individuals [Gillberg, C., & Coleman, M. (2000). The biology of the autistic syndromes (3rd ed.). London: Mac Keith Press; Klinger, L., Dawson, G., & Renner, P. (2002). Autistic disorder. In E. Masn, & R. Barkley (Eds.), Child pyschopathology (2nd ed., pp. 409–454). New York: Guildford Press], the disorder is also strongly associated with the presence of highly developed, idiosyncratic, or savant skills [Heaton, P., & Wallace, G. (2004) Annotation: The savant syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45 (5), 899–911]. We tested identification of fundamental pitch frequencies in complex tones, sine tones and words in AC, an intellectually able man with autism and absolute pitch (AP) and a group of healthy controls with self-reported AP. The analysis showed that AC's naming of speech pitch was highly superior in comparison to controls. The results suggest that explicit access to perceptual information in speech is retained to a significantly higher degree in autism.

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Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2011 12:02

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 15:41

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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