Love me Tender by Elvis has now given a new insight in how humans respond to music. Researchers believe this new study might help in making rapid progress in treating Williams Syndrome and disorders that impair a person's social interactions.
"Our results could be very important for guiding the treatment of these disorders. It could have enormous implications for personal the use of drugs to help people," lead author Julie R. Korenberg, Ph.D., M.D., University of Utah/USTAR professor, Circuits of the Brain and pediatrics, said.
According to National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by mild to moderate mental retardation or learning difficulties. Persons with Williams Syndrome have a distinctive facial appearance, and a unique personality that combines over-friendliness and high levels of empathy with anxiety. People with Williams Syndrome are also prone to heart diseases.
Williams Syndrome occurs when a few genes on chromosome 7 are deleted.
Researchers studied the effects of music on 21 participants, 13 of which had Williams Syndrome. Eight people acted as control group.
The researchers analyzed oxytocin levels in the blood of the participants before music was played. People with Williams Syndrome had three times more oxytocin in blood than the control group.
One of the participants was asked to listen to an Elvis classic "Love me tender." She did not show any outward response to the song. To elicit a greater response from other participants, researchers asked participants to listen to any song that they liked.
Blood samples were taken at regular intervals while the music was being played. Researchers found that there was increase in the oxytocin levels in the blood of all the participants, including people who did not show any outward emotions after listening to the songs.
The person who had heard Elvis had more oxytocin in her blood than any other participant.
The participants repeated the exercise and were asked to place their hands in 60 degree Fahrenheit water. This was done to see whether there was any negative stress. Even this test showed that people who had Williams Syndrome had higher levels of oxytocin when they listen to music than other people.
The researchers also gave the participants tests that assessed their sociability. They found that people with Williams Syndrome were good at talking to strangers but were not able to process social cues.
"The association between abnormal levels of oxytocin and AVP (arginine vasopressin) and altered social behaviors found in people with Williams Syndrome points to surprising, entirely unsuspected deleted genes involved in regulation of these hormones and human sociability. It also suggests that the simple characterization of oxytocin as ‘the love hormone’ may be an overreach. The data paint a far more complicated picture," Korenberg said.
The results indicate that the missing genes that are deleted in Williams Syndrome might be the reason for poor oxytocin control in a person.