My article on Williams syndrome and human sociability is now on the New York Times Magazine web site, at
This was one of the more enthrallling stories I’ve worked on. Williams syndrome rises from a genetic deletion of about 20-25 of our 30,000 genes, and those who have it can be pretty much counted on to be quite gregarious and social. How can a deletion amplify a trait? Is their sociability actually increased, or simply left less fettered?
As the story relates, research into Williams has addressed these questions, throwing some interesting light on not only what makes us seek out others but what drives our more guarded social behavior as well. To my surprise and delight, the findings in Williams dovetail with some fascinating research on social behavior in nonhuman behavior — a connection few have remarked on, but which holds some rich suggestions.
Enjoy, and drop a line if you care to.