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Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2010 Mar;115(2):172-89. doi: 10.1352/1944-7588-115.172.

Auditory attraction: activation of visual cortex by music and sound in Williams syndrome.

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  • 1Vanderbilt University.


Williams syndrome is a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder with a distinctive phenotype, including cognitive-linguistic features, nonsocial anxiety, and a strong attraction to music. we preformed functional MRI studies examining brain responses to musical and other types of stimuli in young adults with Williams syndrome and typically developing controls. In Study 1, the Williams syndrome group exhibited unforeseen activations of the visual cortex to musical stimuli, and it was this novel finding that became the focus of two subsequent studies. Using retinotopy, color localizers, and additional sound conditions, we identified specific visual areas in subjects with Williams syndrome that were activated by both musical and nonmusical auditory stimuli. The results, similar to synthetic-like experiences, have implications for cross-modal sensory processing in typical and atypical neurodevelopment.

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