Musical Ability and Developmental Disorders

Anjali K. Bhatara, Eve-Marie Quintin and Daniel J. Levitin

in The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Disability and Development

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195305012
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Musical Ability and Developmental Disorders

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  • Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology



This chapter begins by discussing the link between intelligence and musical ability. It then presents the currently available data on the musical abilities and behaviors of individuals with Williams syndrome (WS), Down syndrome (DS), fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis complex, and Rett syndrome. Evidence to date suggests that individuals with developmental disorders such as WS, tuberous sclerosis complex, and possibly DS, have musical abilities that are relatively spared as compared to their other cognitive and perceptual deficits. Musical appreciation and enjoyment does not seem to be dependent on cognitive faculties, and can be useful as a means of establishing communication and influencing behavior, even in individuals with severe mental retardation.

Keywords: Musical ability; intelligence; William syndrome; Down syndrome; fragile X syndrome; tuberous sclerosis complex; Rett syndrome

Article.  7793 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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