[PUBLICATION] Sounds Pleasantness Ratings in Autism: Interaction Between Social Information and Acoustical Noise Level


from May 8, 2023 to June 12, 2023

Une publication portée par Lisa Michel (Doctorante) et Marianne Latinus (Chargée de Recherche), équipe Autisme, dans le Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


A lack of response to voices, and a great interest for music are part of the behavioral expressions, commonly (self-)reported in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These atypical interests for vocal and musical sounds could be attributable to different levels of acoustical noise, quantified in the harmonic-to-noise ratio (HNR). No previous study has investigated explicit auditory pleasantness in ASD comparing vocal and non-vocal sounds, in relation to acoustic noise level. The aim of this study is to objectively evaluate auditory pleasantness. 16 adults on the autism spectrum and 16 neuro-typical (NT) matched adults rated the likeability of vocal and non-vocal sounds, with varying harmonic-to-noise ratio levels. A group by category interaction in pleasantness judgements revealed that participants on the autism spectrum judged vocal sounds as less pleasant than non-vocal sounds; an effect not found for NT participants. A category by HNR level interaction revealed that participants of both groups rated sounds with a high HNR as more pleasant for non-vocal sounds. A significant group by HNR interaction revealed that people on the autism spectrum tended to judge as less pleasant sounds with high HNR and more pleasant those with low HNR than NT participants. Acoustical noise level of sounds alone does not appear to explain atypical interest for voices and greater interest in music in ASD.

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