Williams Syndrome is a rare genetic condition — Williams Syndrome is caused by the deletion of roughly 25 genes.
In one experiment to test empathy, the adult experimenter bangs her knee on a table and expresses a great deal of pain. In many runs the lab recorded, the typically-developing child just watched and expressed no empathy or concern. But children with Williams often went right over to the experimenter to rub her knee and ask, “What’s wrong?”
With such empathy comes a lack of fear. Watching a recording of a typically-developing child reacting to a hairy, moving, toy spider, Tager-Flusberg noted, not surprisingly, “She doesn’t want to approach it…and doesn’t have any inclination to go near to it and touch.”