After years of studying people with a rare genetic disorder, researchers at San Diego's Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a gene that plays a role in determining our social behavior, according to the voiceofsandiego.org.
The discovery may not only help us better understand how and why we interact with each other, but also be a stepping stone for treatments of depression, anxiety and other social disorders, the website reported.
Salk neuroscientists Julie R. Korenberg and Ursula Bellugi were able to identify the gene through their study of people with Williams syndrome, a disorder characterized by developmental problems, specific facial features, low IQs and an overly trusting and engaging personality. From a young age, children with Williams syndrome are very polite and crave close social interactions with others.
The discovery, which was published this month in the online edition of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, is being heralded in neuroscience circles for providing a greater understanding of the basic biology of social interactions.