Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 1240–1255 | Cite as

Emotion Perception in Music in High-Functioning Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Eve-Marie QuintinEmail author
  • Anjali Bhatara
  • Hélène Poissant
  • Eric Fombonne
  • Daniel J. Levitin
Original Paper


Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) succeed at a range of musical tasks. The ability to recognize musical emotion as belonging to one of four categories (happy, sad, scared or peaceful) was assessed in high-functioning adolescents with ASD (N = 26) and adolescents with typical development (TD, N = 26) with comparable performance IQ, auditory working memory, and musical training and experience. When verbal IQ was controlled for, there was no significant effect of diagnostic group. Adolescents with ASD rated the intensity of the emotions similarly to adolescents with TD and reported greater confidence in their responses when they had correctly (vs. incorrectly) recognized the emotions. These findings are reviewed within the context of the amygdala theory of autism.


Autism spectrum disorders Emotion Music Adolescence 



This paper is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology at Université du Québec à Montréal by the first author. The research was supported in part by doctoral grants to EMQ by FQRSC and the Canadian Autism Research Training Program, and by research grants to DJL from NAAR/Autism Speaks (#1066), NSERC (#221875-10), and the John and Ethelene Gareau Foundation. We would like to thank the participants and their families; the English Montreal Schoolboard, Summit School, Montreal Children’s Hospital; Pamela Heaton for guidance and advice; Annie Coulter, Many Black, Shirley Elliott, and Bianca Levy for help with testing and recruiting participants; Bennett Smith and Karle-Philip Zamor for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve-Marie Quintin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anjali Bhatara
    • 2
    • 5
  • Hélène Poissant
    • 3
  • Eric Fombonne
    • 4
  • Daniel J. Levitin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Department of Education and PedagogyUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryMontreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University Health CentreMontréalCanada
  5. 5.Laboratoire Psychologie de la PerceptionUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance

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