Williams Syndrome

Word count: 33,390 (two-thirds done!)

I forgot to mention one bit of weird cognitive science I ran across in The Einstein Syndrome - Williams syndrome. The author mentioned it as an example of his theory of brain resources getting unequally used, which would allow his Einstein syndrome children to read with an overstocked area of the brain, but not speak because that area had been temporarily shortchanged.

In Williams syndrome the symptoms are opposite, and the shortchanging is permanent. Children with the syndrome display precocious linguistic and social skills, being able to work a room like a miniature politician. However, such children have very low IQ’s (the example Sowell gave was 49), and often cannot read above the first-grade level or live independently.

Sowell quotes a Dr. Ursula Bellugi: “What makes Williams syndrome so fascinating is it shows that the domains of cognition and language are quite separate.” You wouldn’t quite know that from Einstein syndrome because those children eventually do learn to speak normally. It’s a cool brain fact, isn’t it?

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