Autistic Traits and Enhanced Perceptual Representation of Pitch and Time

J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Apr;48(4):1350-1358. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2517-3.


Enhanced basic perceptual discrimination has been reported for pitch in individuals with autism spectrum conditions. We test whether there is a correlational pattern of enhancement across the broader autism phenotype and whether this correlation occurs for the discrimination of pitch, time and loudness. Scores on the Autism-Spectrum Quotient correlated significantly with the pitch discrimination (r = -0.51, p < 0.05) and the time-interval discrimination (r = -0.45, p < 0.05) task that were based on a fixed reference. No correlation was found for intensity discrimination based on a fixed reference, nor for a variable reference based time-interval discrimination. The correlations suggest a relationship between autistic traits and the ability to form an enhanced, stable and highly accurate representation of auditory events in the pitch and time dimensions.

Keywords: Audition; Autism-Spectrum Quotient; Enhanced representation; Loudness; Pitch; Sensory processing; Time.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Pitch Discrimination*
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult