Exploring musical taste in severely autistic subjects: preliminary data

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul:1169:332-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04853.x.


As a consequence of frequent limbic alterations, autistic persons could judge pleasant and unpleasant music in an unusual manner. We explored this possibility by using consonant and dissonant music (test 2) and excluded the eventuality that they could prefer other auditory stimuli by comparing familiar music to environmental sounds (test 1). In both tests, severe autistics and controls were asked to listen under two conditions (familiar music versus environmental sounds; pleasant versus unpleasant music) in a counterbalanced order while the time spent during each condition was measured. Both groups significantly preferred the musical task and the pleasant music condition. No difference between groups was detected. Results demonstrate that severely autistic subjects share with healthy people the same musical preferences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music*