Effect of music training on audio-visual and emotion processing and its link to autistic traits
: (Alternative Format Thesis)

  • Yuqing Che

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Music greatly enriches our life and brings much joy and consolations, yet playing a musical instrument can be very demanding. Musicians need to process complicated multisensory information, deliver appropriate motor behaviours, and understand and convey the intended emotions to the audience. Emerging evidence suggests musicians have enhanced audio-visual processing and emotion processing abilities. For example, musicians have increased acuity for audio-visual asynchrony and recognise emotions in music and speech prosody better than non-musicians. At the same time, individuals with autism spectrum disorders show poorer performance in both audio-visual and emotion processing, which raises the possibility of developing music training into an effective intervention tool. Therefore, understanding whether and how music training could benefit those two processes is crucial. However, it is unknown whether music training is the key factor in enhancing audio-visual and emotion processing and whether music training could particularly benefit these two processes for individuals with higher levels of autistic traits. Combining systematic review, RCT, and cross-sectional designs, this thesis investigated the effect of music training on audio-visual and emotion processing in neurotypicals with different levels of autistic traits. Findings demonstrate a positive effect of music training on audio-visual processing and a causal link between training and improved audio-visual temporal processing beyond the music domain. Findings also show that music training can benefit emotion processing within the sound domain, such as music and speech. Both musical (e.g., music training, listening, and engagement style) and non-musical factors (e.g., intelligence) can predict audio-visual and emotion recognition processing in musicians. Furthermore, preliminary evidence suggests that individuals with higher levels of autistic traits are likely to benefit more from music training for audio-visual temporal processing, however, this remains to be further examined. The investigations presented here offer a more comprehensive picture of the effect of music training on behavioural and neural changes in audio-visual and emotion processing, pointing to a training-related benefit beyond the music domain. Furthermore, the present findings highlight the causal relationship between music training and enhanced audio-visual temporal processing, which offers important implications for developing music training into an effective tool to benefit a wide population.
Date of Award14 Sept 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorKarin Petrini (Supervisor) & Chris Ashwin (Supervisor)


  • Music Training
  • Audio-visual processing
  • Emotion Processing
  • autistic traits

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