Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Those Williams Syndrome Eyes...

Eyes: A New Window on Mental Disorders: Scientific American:

"Riby and Hancock point out that the underlying cause of the hyper-sociability of Williams syndrome is not yet known. Why do people with Williams syndrome spend so much time looking at eyes? It could be that people with Williams syndrome find it harder to control their gaze behavior and hence cannot inhibit excessive staring. Alternatively, they might take longer to process and understand the information they are accessing from the eyes. In addition, the authors point to recent work showing deficits in executive function and working memory tasks in Williams syndrome highlighting the possibility of attentional control problems in such patients. This discovery suggests the possibility that people with Williams syndrome find it difficult to disengage their attention from faces. Because attention shifting deficits have also been reported for autism, Riby and Hancock propose that the relationship between the prefrontal cortex (involved in inhibiting behavior) and the amygdala (involved in emotion processing) may be crucial in both of these neuro-developmental disorders."

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