Williams Syndrome is found to be linked with altered Insula in the brain; Research

Williams syndrome
Symptoms of Williams syndrome

Researchers have found the possible cause of Williams Syndrome.

This research has been done by Mbemba Jabbi at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues, and published online in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Williams Syndrome (also known as Williams-Beuren Syndrome) is a rare genetic condition. This condition is characterized by extreme type of colic and vomiting in infancy along with heart problems, developmental and some other problems. People with this syndrome are highly social but show extreme anxiety. This syndrome is the result of missing genes. It occurs in 1 in 8000 births.

Researchers worked with MRI scans of 14 people with the syndrome and found that the insula, which is a part of the brain involved in emotion, was smaller than 23 people, who were without Williams Syndrome. Further studies using PET scans showed that one area of the right insula was larger in people with the syndrome. More grey matter was found in people with high personality differences.

According to researchers, this study could help in prediction of development of social symptoms.


Mbemba Jabbi, J. Shane Kippenhan, Philip Kohn, Stefano Marenco, Carolyn B. Mervis, Colleen A. Morris, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, and Karen Faith Berman, (2012). The Williams syndrome chromosome 7q11.23 hemideletion confers hypersocial, anxious personality coupled with altered insula structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1114774109


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