Anna Kasdan, neuroscience doctoral student at Vanderbilt University, will present a psychology seminar at 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, in Room 104 Centennial Hall. Kasdan’s presentation is titled “Neural Correlates of Musical Rhythm in Williams Syndrome.”
The abstract is as follows: Williams Syndrome (WS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hypersociability, heightened auditory sensitivites and strong musical interests despite variable musical skills. Individuals with WS exhibit variability in musical beat perception, which is important for both musical and social interactions. We sought to investigate the neural basis of beat tracking in these individuals using electroencephalography (EEG). Twenty-seven individuals with WS and 16 age-matched controls passively listened to musical rhythms with accents on either the first or second tone of the pattern, leading to distinct beat percepts, while brain activity was recorded. Individuals with WS and controls showed strong evoked activity in both the beta (13-30 Hz) and gamma (31-55 Hz) frequency bands in response to strong beat onset in both conditions. Individuals with WS exhibited significantly greater amplitude of auditory evoked potentials and alpha (8-12 Hz) activity compared to controls, and this alpha activity correlated with auditory and musical behavioral reports in the WS group. Results will be discussed in the context of auditory sensitivities and attentional difficulties seen in the WS phenotype.