Vienna-Bergen Collaboration in Autism Research Project

First in-person meeting of the joint research team in Vienna, February 2022

Marianna Ruiz Loria, Research Fellow at Bergen University, writes about a collaborative research study involving music therapists from Norway and Austria:

The notion of a connection between autism and music is as old as the first reported cases of autism, and music has been used as a therapeutic tool for many decades. The ongoing Music for Autism (M4A) trial aims to evaluate the effects of 12 weeks of music therapy compared to 12 weeks of a matched play-based therapy intervention on a group of children with autism ages 6-12 years. The 80 children for the study will be recruited from both Vienna, Austria and Bergen, Norway. Before and after each intervention, children will be assessed for neurobehavioral and biological outcomes including social communication skills, participation, mental health, brain connectivity and structure, gut microbiome, and stress levels to better understand the effects of music therapy on these outcomes.

These pictures were taken in February 2022 in Vienna where the research team and all the music therapists from both sites in Bergen and Vienna met for the first time in person. We discussed the experiences and challenges for the music therapists in delivering a manualized intervention as part of a research project in general as well as doing some improvisation with the instruments ourselves. It was a great opportunity for team building, reflection and collaboration between the research team and the music therapists. We hope to continue our work together in the coming years, further understanding the field of music therapy and how music can be used to create and strengthen a bond with children with autism.

Here is a link to our website for more information: