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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Kelly Jakubowski

Heaton, Pamela, Tsang, Wai Fung, Jakubowski, Kelly, Mullensiefen, Daniel & Allen, Rory (2018). Discriminating autism and language impairment and specific language impairment through acuity of musical imagery. Research in Developmental Disabilities 80: 52-63.

Author(s) from Durham


Deficits in auditory short-term memory have been widely reported in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and recent evidence suggests that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and co-morbid language impairment (ALI) experience similar difficulties. Music, like language relies on auditory memory and the aim of the study was to extend work investigating the impact of auditory short-term memory impairments to musical perception in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Groups of children with SLI and ALI were matched on chronological age (CA), receptive vocabulary, non-verbal intelligence and digit span, and compared with CA matched typically developing (TD) controls, on tests of pitch and temporal acuity within a voluntary musical imagery paradigm. The SLI participants performed at significantly lower levels than the ALI and TD groups on both conditions of the task and their musical imagery and digit span scores were positively correlated. In contrast ALI participants performed as well as TD controls on the tempo condition and better than TD controls on the pitch condition of the task. Whilst auditory short-term memory and receptive vocabulary impairments were similar across ALI and SLI groups, these were not associated with a deficit in voluntary musical imagery performance in the ALI group.