JOURNAL ARTICLE

Perception of Melodic Contour and Intonation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence From Mandarin Speakers

Jun Jiang, Fang Liu, Xuan Wan, Cunmei Jiang
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2015, 45 (7): 2067-75
25636678
Tone language experience benefits pitch processing in music and speech for typically developing individuals. No known studies have examined pitch processing in individuals with autism who speak a tone language. This study investigated discrimination and identification of melodic contour and speech intonation in a group of Mandarin-speaking individuals with high-functioning autism. Individuals with autism showed superior melodic contour identification but comparable contour discrimination relative to controls. In contrast, these individuals performed worse than controls on both discrimination and identification of speech intonation. These findings provide the first evidence for differential pitch processing in music and speech in tone language speakers with autism, suggesting that tone language experience may not compensate for speech intonation perception deficits in individuals with autism.

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