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Elvis Presley Song May Reveal Clues to Genetic Disorder

Health & Wellness  (tags: children, disease, environment, genetics, healing, healthcare, investigation, medicine, research, science, society, study, treatment )

- 2288 days ago -
The 13 participants with Williams syndrome -- a genetic disorder that can bring developmental delays and mild mental retardation, along with an overly friendly and trusting personality -- experienced a spike in both hormones when music played.


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Kit B (276)
Monday June 18, 2012, 6:34 pm

Even the toughest of hearts might melt at the sound of Elvis Presley crooning his classic song, “Love Me Tender.” Now a new study shows that when people with the genetic disorder Williams syndrome listen to that song or others, they experience changes in levels of the hormones associated with feelings of love.

The findings provide clues about the genes that are tied to people's emotions, the researchers say.

Researchers observed 21 people while they listened to music, and took blood samples to track levels of the hormones oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP). The 13 participants with Williams syndrome — a genetic disorder that can bring developmental delays and mild mental retardation, along with an overly friendly and trusting personality — experienced a spike in both hormones when music played.

Individuals without the condition saw little change to their oxytocin and AVP levels while listening.

One woman with Williams syndrome experienced significantly higher spikes in the hormones, compared with everyone else in the study; in the experiment, she listened to the Elvis tune.

The results could help researchers treat people who have this disorder and others that share some features with Williams syndrome, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and autism, said study researcher Julie Korenberg, of the University of Utah. The research provides insight to the relationship between genes and emotions, and links AVP levels to music for the first time, she said.

People with Williams syndrome have several genes missing from their seventh chromosome. They tend to be very friendly and have an affinity for music, but also are likely to have IQs as low as 60 and experience several health concerns, such as narrow blood vessels and high levels of calcium.

People with the condition often lack the ability to read social cues, despite their desire for friendship. Their disposition may be the result of high levels of oxytocin and AVP, according to the researchers.

At the start of the experiment, before any music was played, blood samples showed that people with Williams syndrome had three times the amount of oxytocin as people in the control group.

Results from the hormone tests showed that the people with Williams syndrome experienced marked increases in hormone levels while listening to music.

The research "points to surprising, entirely unsuspected deleted genes involved in regulation of these hormones and human sociability,” Korenberg said. "It also suggests that the simple characterization of oxytocin as ‘the love hormone’ may be an overreach. The data paint a far more complicated picture."

Understanding the relationship between genes, hormones and emotions will be key in treating Williams syndrome, but may also have implications for treating disorders such as autism and anxiety, the researchers said.

The study was published June 12 in the journal PLoS One.

MyHealthNewsDaily Staff | Live Science |

Carol H (229)
Monday June 18, 2012, 6:43 pm
interesting, thanks Kit, noted

Kamila A (141)
Monday June 18, 2012, 7:17 pm
very interesting. Thanks!

Kit B (276)
Monday June 18, 2012, 7:35 pm

They could probably get similar results using any sappy song, but hey, I got to post a picture of Elvis in his gorgeous years.

Actually, this is a wonderful break through for people that suffer from this genetic disorder.

Michael C (217)
Monday June 18, 2012, 8:27 pm
Noted, I don't know If I have any strange symptoms, however when I hear Elvis songs, the feeling I get, is to turn it Sorry, I know lots of people are totally into Elvis, but I personally just never "Got" what was so great about him..I mean no disrespect to Elvis, or anyone who loved him, but I just never thought he was all that...

Kit B (276)
Monday June 18, 2012, 8:38 pm

Hey Michael - different strokes! As a young man he was drop dead gorgeous, and could sing.

pam w (139)
Monday June 18, 2012, 8:50 pm
Kit, at the age of 13, my friend Marilyn and I watched a very young Elvis on TV. I can GUARANTEE there was a very sharp change in OUR hormone levels....and it had nothing to do with depression, I assure you! Then there was the Singer concert and that black leather suit.


Stan B (123)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 1:48 am
Always loved Elvis, Kit and always will. He didn't affect my hormone levels but was one of the greats of our generation.

Susanne R (235)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 3:58 am
The first thing I thought of when I read this article was the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer suffered a seizure every time he heard Mary Hart's voice (Entertainment Tonight).

Interesting article, Kit! I wonder if researchers would get similar results if they tested the blood samples of people who are simply die-hard Elvis fans? Music causes many people to become emotional for various reasons. For me, an old song will spark a memory of a very painful period in my life and bring about a sudden emotional response. Whenever I hear the song "Penny Lane," it reminds me of my father's death because that song was popular when he died.

I don't imagine that science can do much about genetic disorders, but this is a very interesting nonetheless. Thanks for posting!

Gloria picchetti (304)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 5:35 am
Elvis is making me too emotional!

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 6:35 am
Very interesting article Kit. I hope the research continues into how this may help people with PTSD and autism. So many people now and in the future can be helped.

Kenneth L (314)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 7:09 am
When I hear really funky music it makes me occasionally go into convulsive spasms and jerking body movements. Now some people might just call that an inability to dance, but I prefer the psychiatric label of "Pathetic Dysrhythmia Disorder".

Bob P (394)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 7:31 am
interesting thanks

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 11:58 am

PDD? Kenneth I believe that's one that many suffer from. My eye twitches and my jaw tightens and I feel waves of nausea when I hear C&W music.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 12:04 pm
Good article about a poorly understood disorder. Thanks. noted.

Michael C (217)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 12:50 pm
Well, your right, Kit, as you say different strokes...I don't disagree he could really sing, and i'm sure as a young man, he probably got many of young ladies motors running...As I also said, no disrespect to Elvis, or to anyone who loves Elvis, I just didn't get into him, and I never got the onsession with him after he died...Bit to those who feel differently, I totally respect your feelings...i was just explaining mine...

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 12:58 pm

I read a study that says our taste in music is formed about 14 years of age. I was younger when Elvis hit, but it was new music for our generation. Thanks to ole Ed Sullivan, most of the new artists had a shot a TV appearances. I can remember my Dad taking me to see the movie "Love Me Tender". On reflection, not a great movie, but his fans were people looking for a new style of music. It was sad that he and so many others died so young. It seems a part of that industry, from airplane crashes to drug over doses, or for John Lennon, murder.

Kerrie G (116)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 1:03 pm
Noted, thanks.

Gloria H (88)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 1:34 pm
I think it has to do with the melody, much like a soothing song sung to infants. Much like "Battle Hymn of the Republic" stirs up uber patriotic /religious feelings.
Wouldn't be better crowd control than pepperspray and tear gas to play soft music?

Gene J (290)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 1:47 pm
I think you're right, Kit. I was about 13 when the Beatles hit the US and rock and roll became my music. Of course, it helped that my parents were diehard C&W fans and I was obliged to not like their music. That is one of the niceties about "our" music, it has transcended generations. My sons loved some of my old music more than I did, or as much. Nice story, thanks.

Michael C (217)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 4:11 pm
Sorry for the bad spelling in my last post...i was trying to say obsession, and But, not onsession, and And You are right Kit about, dying young, it definitely is part of the Industry, Plane Crashes, Drug Overdoses, and Murder, I just think the life style contributes to some of them dying so young...Lot's of people think it's a glamorous life, but It really isn't...It's a lot of hard work, traveling, and taking drugs to keep you going to the next stop on tour...

Mary Donnelly (47)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 4:30 pm
Thanks Kit.

Fred Krohn (34)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 4:36 pm
Obsession with Elvis the Pelvis is a 'genetic disorder'? Maybe someone is studying the genetics of cannabis sativa a little too closely?

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 5:27 pm
I am interested to know if this "William's syndrome" can be injected into TeaBaggers - they already have the low IQ, so injecting "overly friendly and trusting personality" would be a step up from the Bu$h League Thugitis they (and we) suffer from!;)

Kit B (276)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 5:55 pm

Laughing out loud, Yvonne. Ya just never know, they are able to genetically promote more protein in silk worms for cancer drugs. Maybe 'teabaggery' can be healed!

Rebecca Y (26)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 6:23 pm
Oh geez, I must have a mental disorder because my hormone levels spike every time I hear a romantic song by Elvis and others. Help! and it gets especially bad if I have liquor on top of all that music; I get very overly friendly and trusting !

Dee C (229)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 6:44 pm
Music is amazing..wonderful..and I think very healing..It's so great that it has helped in this disorder..

Thanks Kit..very interesting story..

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 8:01 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

Judy C (91)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 8:05 pm
Elvis? No. Thom Yorke or Mark Lanegan? Yes! LOL. Seriously, this is an interesting finding, Kit.

Cheryl Ulrich (110)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 11:30 pm
I LOVE ELVIS !!! Long live The King !! :D

Patty G (8)
Tuesday June 19, 2012, 11:58 pm
There will never be another Elvis! He had it all. Looks , voice, smile, build and it all went to hell. But I have every record he made and will always love him and his music. Wonderful that his music was able to help these people. He was gorgeous, especially in person. Too bad his life ended when it did and the way it did.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 20, 2012, 3:26 am
Now there's a headline I didn't expect to read when I woke up this morning.

Good, though. Thanks.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday June 20, 2012, 8:45 am

Elvis is the eye-catcher for this remarkable research. The science is the heart of this article.

M B (62)
Wednesday June 20, 2012, 2:17 pm
I'm not into Elvis, I can be friendly but also very grumpy. Thanks Kit for this interesting article. I believe certain music has healing properties.

Patricia N (9)
Wednesday June 20, 2012, 11:34 pm
We have so much to learn about our bodies and the environment. It will take another couple of centuries....if we last that long.

Irma Paulme (94)
Thursday June 21, 2012, 2:47 am

Music heals. Indeed.

Veronique L (209)
Thursday June 21, 2012, 8:31 am
This is interesting, thak you!

Nancy M (168)
Thursday June 21, 2012, 9:15 am
Interesting article Kit, thanks. Who would have thought?!?

I can hardly wait to see all the fuss over developing a diagnostic test using Elvis' record.

JL A (281)
Thursday June 21, 2012, 9:22 am
such research is foundational for developing the models for other research that can explore how to improve people's lives via treating medical conditions and associated symptoms

cynthia l (207)
Thursday June 21, 2012, 10:43 pm
music is amazing and can heal.

. (0)
Monday June 25, 2012, 3:00 pm
This article has been kicking around Care2 for awhile, so I decided to read it. Yes, Kim B., Elvis was drop dead handsome. I believe it ends there.

Sharon Bolt (0)
Saturday June 29, 2013, 1:08 pm
His music always changes my bad mood into a very positive and happy mood.
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