Music and Autism Disease

What we are finding is, first, this test is really hard. At about four and five locations people start to lose it. Second, we are finding that musicians and non-musicians are performing similarly, despite their different experiences with musical memory and familiarity with the types of material. For instance, in one trial, we’re presenting users with very small clips of mozart string quartets. In our musician group, musicians were well versed in this material, and could identify the composer without prompting. However, in the testing environment, expert status did not convey any advantage whatsoever. We hypothesize that in a condition where the domain of expertise is subservient to a dominating and difficult task from a domain without expertise, that the domain of expertise, in this case, music, does not convey an advantage.

This is very promising for our application design efforts. If we can further test our hypothesis to define the context in which domain of expertise does and does not convey an advantage over rote cognitive testing, we may be able to lay the groundwork for using diverse and rich application environments to window into basic cognitive mechanisms.