Williams Syndrome Offers Fresh Insight into Language

Rare Disorder Offers Fresh Insight into Language
July 10, 2006

People with Williams Syndrome are elf-like in appearance.

They also have an average IQ of about 60.

their language skills seemed surprisingly good, given their low intelligence.
The disorder appeared to be the opposite of autism, in which people can have normal IQ, but few language skills.

Their motivation to talk to other people is so strong that it helps them overcome some of their initial problems with language.

To use language fully, people need sophisticated social skills that people with Williams Syndrome don’t have.
One of these is something called theory of mind. It’s the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of the person we are talking to.


Molding reality so that it’s palatable

You & Your Brain – Julian Keenan


It turns out that even the most basic things we believe about ourselves are often wrong.
Neuroscientist Julian Keenan says it has to do with how the brain works.
He’s the author of the “Face in the Mirror: How We Know Who We Are.”

Cartesian Theater,”the idea that there’s someone inside my head looking at someone inside my head who’s looking at someone inside my head and you keep going in that circle.

one of the key components of the self is molding reality not so that it’s real but so that it’s palatable.

theory of mind
you can think about what I’m thinking about what you’re thinking about my thinking.
We can go back and forth with this like cognitive gymnastics where we get into each other’s minds.

more on depression and reality:

more on memory and time travel:



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Barbara Bradley Hagerty on “Fingerprints of God” »
Richard Nisbett on IQ »
Maryanne Wolf on Dyslexia as a Gift »
Siri Hustvedt on her Shaking Sickness »

Crows can act out a three-step plan

A Murder of Crows
October 24, 2010

15:50 three species that make tools:

  • elephants
  • chimpanzees
  • Caledonian crows: they make and use tools in much more sophisticated way than chimps

16:50 to use a tool to get another tool to get food requires much more complex cognitive powers meta tool use

17:45 Crows can act out a three-step plan!

39:30 Theory of Mind

food caching


life: 20 years