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Cyan2 comments on Growing Up is Hard - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 January 2009 03:55AM

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Comment author: Cyan2 04 January 2009 04:44:06AM 5 points [-]

Deacon makes a case for some Williams Syndrome symptoms coming from a frontal cortex that is relatively too large for a human, with the result that prefrontal signals - including certain social emotions - dominate more than they should.

Having not read the book, I don't know if Deacon deals with any alternative hypotheses, but one alternative I know of is the idea that WSers get augmented verbal and social skills is because it is the only cognitive skill they are able to practice. In short, WSers are (postulated to be) geniuses at social interaction because of practice, not because of brain signal imbalance. This is analogous to the augmented leg and foot dexterity of people lacking arms.

How could we test these alternatives? I seem to recall that research has been done in the temporary suppression of brain activity using EM fields (carefully, one would hope). If I haven't misremembered, then effects of the brain signal imbalance might be subject to experimental investigation.