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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Sensitivity of the autonomic nervous system to visual and auditory affect across social and non-social domains in williams syndrome
Authors: Jarvinen, Anna
Dering, Benjamin
Neumann, Dirk
Ng, Rowena
Crivelli, Davide
Grichanik, Mark
Korenberg, Julie
Bellugi, Ursula
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Keywords: williams syndrome
electrodermal activity
heart rate
facial expression
autonomic nervous system
Issue Date: Sep-2012
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Citation: Jarvinen A, Dering B, Neumann D, Ng R, Crivelli D, Grichanik M, Korenberg J & Bellugi U (2012) Sensitivity of the autonomic nervous system to visual and auditory affect across social and non-social domains in williams syndrome, Frontiers in Psychology, 3 (343).
Abstract: Although individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) typically demonstrate an increased appetitive social drive, their social profile is characterized by dissociations, including socially fearless behavior coupled with anxiousness, and distinct patterns of "peaks and valleys" of ability. The aim of this study was to compare the processing of social and non-social visually and aurally presented affective stimuli, at the levels of behavior and autonomic nervous system (ANS) responsivity, in individuals with WS contrasted with a typically developing (TD) group, with the view of elucidating the highly sociable and emotionally sensitive predisposition noted in WS. Behavioral findings supported previous studies of enhanced competence in processing social over non-social stimuli by individuals with WS; however, the patterns of ANS functioning underlying the behavioral performance revealed a surprising profile previously undocumented in WS. Specifically, increased heart rate (HR) reactivity, and a failure for electrodermal activity to habituate were found in individuals with WS contrasted with the TD group, predominantly in response to visual social affective stimuli. Within the auditory domain, greater arousal linked to variation in heart beat period was observed in relation to music stimuli in individuals with WS. Taken together, the findings suggest that the pattern of ANS response in WS is more complex than previously noted, with increased arousal to face and music stimuli potentially underpinning the heightened behavioral emotionality to such stimuli. The lack of habituation may underlie the increased affiliation and attraction to faces characterizing individuals with WS. Future research directions are suggested.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: © 2012 Järvinen, Dering, Neumann, Ng, Crivelli, Grichanik, Korenberg and Bellugi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
Affiliation: Salk Institute
California Institute of Technology
Salk Institute
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Salk Institute
University of Utah
Salk Institute

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