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No transfer of arousal from other’s eyes in Williams syndrome

Kleberg, Johan Lundin; Hallman, Astrid E. Z.; Galazka, Martyna A.; Riby, Deborah M.; Bölte, Sven; Willfors, Charlotte; Fawcett, Christine; Nordgren, Ann

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Johan Lundin Kleberg

Astrid E. Z. Hallman

Martyna A. Galazka

Sven Bölte

Charlotte Willfors

Christine Fawcett

Ann Nordgren


Typically developing humans automatically synchronize their arousal levels, resulting in pupillary contagion, or spontaneous adaptation of pupil size to that of others. This phenomenon emerges in infancy and is believed to facilitate social interaction. Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic condition characterized by a hyper-social personality and social interaction challenges. Pupillary contagion was examined in individuals with WS (n = 44), age-parallel-matched typically developing children and adults (n = 65), and infants (n = 79). Bayesian statistics were used. As a group, people with WS did not show pupillary contagion (Bayes factors supporting the null: 25–50) whereas control groups did. This suggests a very early emerging atypical developmental trajectory. In WS, higher pupillary contagion was associated with lower autistic symptoms of social communication. Diminished synchronization of arousal may explain why individuals with WS have social challenges, whereas synchronization of arousal is not a necessary correlate of high social motivation.


Kleberg, J. L., Hallman, A. E. Z., Galazka, M. A., Riby, D. M., Bölte, S., Willfors, C., …Nordgren, A. (2023). No transfer of arousal from other’s eyes in Williams syndrome. Scientific Reports, 13(1), Article 18397.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 20, 2023
Online Publication Date Oct 26, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 30, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 30, 2023
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Article Number 18397
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Published Journal Article (1.4 Mb)


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