Atypical hemispheric asymmetry in the perception of negative human vocalizations in individuals with Williams syndrome

Neuropsychologia. 2010 Mar;48(4):1047-52. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.12.002. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Williams syndrome is a neurological condition associated with high levels of auditory reactivity and emotional expression combined with impaired perception of prosody. Yet, little is currently known about the neural organization of affective auditory processing in individuals with this disorder. The current study examines auditory emotion processing in individuals with Williams syndrome. Hemispheric organization for positive and negative human non-linguistic sound processing was compared in participants with and without the disorder using a dichotic listening paradigm. While controls exhibited an expected right cerebral hemisphere advantage for processing negative sounds, those with Williams syndrome showed the opposite pattern. No differences between the groups emerged for the positive stimuli. The results suggest aberrant processing of negative auditory information in Williams syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition*
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psycholinguistics / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Speech Perception*
  • Williams Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Williams Syndrome / psychology*
  • Young Adult