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The musical link to special kids

health-and-fitness Updated: May 15, 2008 13:11 IST

PTI
Highlight Story

Music-based therapy may hold the key to understanding how the brain processes emotion in children with special needs related to autism, a study has suggested.



Individuals with

autism spectrum disorders

(ASD) have trouble recognising emotions, particularly social emotions conveyed through facial expressions a frown, a smirk or a smile. This inability can rob a child of the chance to communicate and socialise and often leads to social isolation. <b1>



The study at the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) Tennenbaum Centre for the Biology of Creativity will also "help promote the use of music as a powerful tool for studying brain functions, from cognition to creativity".



Researchers led by Istvan Molnar-Szakacs are using "emotional music" to examine the brain regions involved in emotion processing.



"Our hypothesis is that if we are able to engage the brain region involved in emotion processing using emotional music, this will open the doorway for teaching children with ASD to better recognise emotions in social stimuli, such as facial expressions," Molnar-Szakacs said.



"The study should help us to better understand how the brain processes emotion in children with autism; that, in turn, will help us develop more optimal interventions," Molnar-Szakacs said.



Approximately 15 children with ASD, ranging in age from 10 to 13, will participate in the study, which is being conducted under the auspices of the Help GroupUCLA Autism Research Alliance, the

ScienceDaily

online said.