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Genetics May Play a Part in Our Response to Elvis

nate bringhurst.jpg
Nathan Bringhurst has Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder critical to a recent University of Utah study connecting genes to emotional responses to music.

Newly published research from the University of Utah shows  there is  a genetic connection to the emotional response to music. For the study, music by Elvis Presley and others was played to gage emotional hormone levels in people with Williams syndrome, a well-documented genetic disorder.

University of Utah professor Dr. Julie Korenberg led the study, which is the first ever to reveal new genes that control emotional response. She is hopeful that the breakthrough will lead to better treatments of a wide spectrum of disorders.

"Social issues, and behavior anxiety, autism, depression -- these are among, I think, the most important things that we as a society need to understand and help."

Specifically, oxytocin and vasopressin blood levels were measured -- two hormones released in the brain. Oxytocin is often described as the "love hormone," but Dr. Korenberg says there's more to it:

"These higher oxytocin values are not just positive. They are also negative. So, the higher oxytocin you have, the more you tend to approach people but the higher oxytocin you have also the less adaptive behavior you have socially."

Dr. Korenberg points to the study as a turning point in understanding human emotional and behavioral systems.