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Social feedback enhances learning in Williams syndrome

Kleberg, J.L.; Willfors, C.; Björlin Avdic, H.; Riby, D.M.; Galazka, M.A.; Guath, M.; Nordgren, N.; Strannegård, C.

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J.L. Kleberg

C. Willfors

H. Björlin Avdic

M.A. Galazka

M. Guath

N. Nordgren

C. Strannegård


Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic condition characterized by high social interest and approach motivation as well as intellectual disability and anxiety. Despite the fact that social stimuli are believed to have an increased intrinsic reward value in WS, it is not known whether this translates to learning and decision making. Genes homozygously deleted in WS are linked to sociability in the general population, making it a potential model condition for understanding the social brain. Probabilistic reinforcement learning was studied with either social or non-social rewards for correct choices. Social feedback improved learning in individuals with Williams syndrome but not in typically developing controls or individuals with other intellectual disabilities. Computational modeling indicated that these effects on social feedback were mediated by a shift towards higher weight given to rewards relative to punishments and increased choice consistency. We conclude that reward learning in WS is characterized by high volatility and a tendency to learn how to avoid punishment rather than how to gain rewards. Social feedback can partly normalize this pattern and promote adaptive reward learning.


Kleberg, J., Willfors, C., Björlin Avdic, H., Riby, D., Galazka, M., Guath, M., …Strannegård, C. (2023). Social feedback enhances learning in Williams syndrome. Scientific Reports, 13, Article 164.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 8, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 4, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2023
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Article Number 164
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