Language and sociability: insights from Williams syndrome

J Neurodev Disord. 2011 Sep;3(3):185-92. doi: 10.1007/s11689-011-9086-3. Epub 2011 Jun 14.


One of the most compelling features of Williams syndrome (WS) is the widely reported excessive sociability, accompanied by a relative proficiency in expressive language, which stands in stark contrast with significant intellectual and nonverbal impairments. It has been proposed that the unique language skills observed in WS are implicated in the strong drive to interact and communicate with others, which has been widely documented in WS. Nevertheless, this proposition has yet to be empirically examined. The present study aimed at investigating the relationship between a brain index of language processing and judgments of approachability of faces, as a proxy for sociability, in individuals with WS as contrasted to typical controls. Results revealed a significant and substantial association between the two in the WS, but not in the control group, supporting the hitherto untested notion that language use in WS might be uniquely related to their excessive social drive.