Hearing the feeling: Auditory emotion perception in Williams syndrome

Heaton, Pam F.; Ridley, Ellen; Makhmood, Sonya and Riby, Deborah M.. 2020. Hearing the feeling: Auditory emotion perception in Williams syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 103, 103660. ISSN 0891-4222 [Article]

Heaton, P. at al (2020) Hearing the feeling_AAM.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

Studies investigating recognition of facial expressions of emotions in Williams syndrome (WS) have reported difficulties in recognising negative expressions of emotion and a reliance on atypically developing underlying processes during task performance.

The aim of the study was to extend these findings to the recognition of emotions in auditory domains.
Method and procedures

Children and adolescents with WS, together with chronological (CA) and verbal mental age matched (VMA) typically developing (TD) comparison groups, were asked to judge expressions of happiness, sadness, anger, and fear in vocal and musical conditions.
Outcomes and results

Total emotion recognition scores did not differ between WS and VMA matched groups but profiles of discrimination across emotion categories were markedly different. For all groups, the accessibility of emotion category cues differed across music and speech domains. The results suggested that emotion discrimination is more strongly linked with cognitive ability in WS than in TD.

Conclusions and implications
Although WS and TD groups showed a significantly different profile of discrimination across emotion categories, similarities in the pattern of discrimination across domains and in the correlates of auditory emotion processing were observed. The results are discussed in the context of typical and atypical developmental trajectories and compensatory mechanisms in WS.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Williams syndrome, Auditory processing, Emotion processing

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15 April 2020Accepted
21 May 2020Published Online
August 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

09 Jun 2020 10:05

Last Modified:

04 Aug 2021 11:59

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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