What Is Williams Syndrome?

Williams syndrome (WS or WMS; also Williams–Beuren syndrome or WBS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a distinctive, "elfin" facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge; an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 23, 2010) Language as a Window Into Sociability

People with Williams syndrome-known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers-process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders-characterized by social withdrawal and isolation-found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Their findings, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, will help to generate more specific hypotheses regarding language perception and processing in both Williams syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, as well as the core mechanisms involved in the development of communication and social skills.

“Spoken language is probably the most important form of social interaction between people and, maybe not surprisingly, we found that the way the brain processes language mirrors the contrasting social phenotypes of Williams syndrome and autism spectrum disorders,” says lead author Inna Fishman, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist in the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Salk, who conceived the study together with Debra Mills, Ph.D., currently a reader at Bangor University in UK.

(See the original article here)

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