Children are often seen playing musical instruments and other instruments with their parents in video games, but it can be hard to tell whether the child is playing the instrument in an actual musical performance.
The new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, found that children with autism spectrum disorder often play with musical instruments in video game games, even though their parents never actually do.
Researchers asked children with ASD to play with an instrument in a video game, as a result of which a “visual pattern” would emerge, a “musical sound” would be heard, and the child would then show a “sensitivity” to the music.
They also asked the children to listen to a video of a different musician playing the same instrument.
When asked to describe the music they heard, the children with ASDs were asked to say that they had “heard it all the time” and that they were “in tune with the instrument.”
When asked to identify the music the children heard, they were asked “What is the instrument playing?
What is the sound?”
They were also asked to indicate how “sensitive” they felt to the sounds and to rate their “musically informed”ness, or “feeling that the sound was musical,” in terms of “sensory and motor skills.”
When the children were asked how sensitive they were to sounds that they did not hear, they said they were in tune with it all, even if it was not exactly how they were taught to play it.
The researchers then examined the children’s “music informed” responses to the same musical instruments, asking them to choose which one they liked better and to indicate whether they thought they could tell the difference between a real instrument and an imaginary one.
These were the same measures used by the researchers to find out if they were using their “autism spectrum disorder as a tool for musical education,” and whether they were able to play instruments correctly.
When asked how much they liked a musical instrument, the autistic children preferred the real instruments, but when asked how “in touch” they were with the musical instruments themselves, they preferred the imaginary instruments.
When the researchers examined the musical instrument preference, the researchers found that the autistic kids who preferred the fictional instruments tended to play better with the real ones than the other group of children.
They were also less likely to use a musical cue to describe their favorite instrument.
While it is important to understand that this study is not saying that all children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) prefer the fictional musical instruments over real ones, it does indicate that when the children are asked to choose between a sound and a musical, they are more likely to prefer the real thing.
The researchers said that this could explain why the “musicians” they measured with their instruments were more sensitive to sounds in the game than other players.
However, when asked if they could identify the instrument and describe its sound, the study participants were asked whether they could recognize the instrument when they heard it, rather than if they felt that it was “specially designed for them.”
This indicates that there are “different neural responses to sound and musical stimuli,” as they say, and they might not be able to use their “sensation-seeking” to identify that it is a real sound.
It could also be that they simply do not have the same “sensing-seeking abilities” as their peers, as the researchers noted.