BRAMS – CRBLM Lecture Series: Student Presentation by Kevin Jamey
The effect of rhythm-based training on cognitive abilities in children with autism spectrum disorder
Abstract: Skill transfer effect presents an opportunity to increase learning potential in child development, as well as to target impaired abilities in pathological disorders. The long-term training of music engages a considerable set of skills, which can result in a generalization of ability outside the context of music. However, evidence for skill transfer effects from music training programs to cognitive abilities is inconsistent and may arise from the lack of longitudinal randomized-control trials as well as the breadth of different aspects involved in practicing music (pitch and rhythm, reading musical notation, and coordination with fellow musicians). Rhythm, a fundamental component of music, engages a large group of key cortical and subcortical processes and may provide a compelling and more narrowly defined entry point to study skill transfer effects mechanisms when trained through music. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is an ideal model population for testing the theoretical and clinical impact of a rhythm-based training such as beat-synchronization, which seems to have unique neural overlap with deficient processes in ASD (sensorimotor, cognitive, verbal and socioemotional processing) and to generate skill transfer for executive function in typical development. Given the discomfort that social interactions may engender in ASD and that individuals with ASD have generally intact musical perception as well as a common interest in music, the use of mobile technologies combined with music may help with compliance to interventions in ASD. In order to better understand the mechanisms at play in skill transfer to cognitive abilities in music, as well as how they might help remediate pathological disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), my Ph.D. project will 1) quantitatively assess current evidence for transfer effects from music training using meta-analysis, 2) develop and validate a specific rhythm-based training (tablet application) aimed at improving a range of cognitive abilities in children with ASD 3) evaluate the potential of this rhythm-based training to address impairments in children with ASD in a longitudinal study, and 4) examine the neural basis of this rhythm training. This work will serve to better understand the contribution of rhythm, a fundamental component of music, in skill transfers attributed to music (for instance to cognitive abilities). This research will help in assessing the therapeutic potential of rhythm-based therapies for clinical populations, such as ASD. Finally, this work can help to guide future studies on the use of rhythm and new technologies in promoting cognitive improvement and compliance to training.
Short Bio: I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montreal, co-supervised by Dr. Simone Dalla Bella and Dr. Krista Hyde. I did my bachelor’s degree at McGill and my master’s with Dr. Krista Hyde at the University of Montreal. My special interests lie in music, neuropsychology and neurodevelopmental disorders. The focus of my graduate work is to better understand the mechanisms at play in skill transfer effects from music-based training to cognitive abilities, as well as how they might help remediate pathological disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.