Thursday, February 5, 2009

More on Brain Processing in People with Williams Syndrome

Why Bangor is smiles ahead - WalesOnline:

"The research, which is published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, focused on individuals with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition. Along with other traits, people with Williams syndrome have a heightened response to happy or smiling faces and are less likely to react to aggressive or angry faces.

People with this condition can be friendly and gregarious – so friendly that they can place themselves in danger. Such individuals generally require 24- hour care or supervision.

Through the research, the team was able to pinpoint the differences in brain processing in people with Williams syndrome compared to a range of other individuals to learn more about this unusual condition.

“We want to understand the brain mechanisms involved in reacting to emotional expressions so that we can understand what happens within these individuals and ultimately improve the help and care they receive,” Dr Mills said. “People with Williams syndrome are usually aware of their condition but are often unable to inhibit their impulses to engage with people around them. It may be their response to seeing a happy face is far more intense than our own.”

The part of the brain most active when reacting to emotion- al stimuli is the amygdala, a primitive almond-shaped brain structure. This small area deep within the brain interacts with other parts of the brain to regulate arousal, attention, and memory to emotional stimuli.

The researchers established that the changed response in people with Williams syndrome was not related to IQ."

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