Musical Interests and Abilities in Individuals with Developmental Disabilities


This chapter reviews studies of musicality in individuals with Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, and autism spectrum disorders. Music can be used to assess a wide range of perceptual, cognitive, motor, and affective processes. We discuss how the study of musicality contributes to our understanding of each of these syndromes, drawing connections to the underling neurobiology when possible. After consideration of the methodological limitations of previous studies, we make suggestions for future areas of research within this field. Research into musicality in these developmental disorders can contribute to overarching questions about music, including domain general versus domain-specific mechanisms, development of musical interest and skill, and musical enculturation. Implications for understanding both typical and atypical development are discussed.