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Orientation coding: a specific deficit in Williams syndrome?

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental neuropsychology
Publication Date
Volume
29
Issue
3
Pages
397–414
Identifiers
PMID: 16671858
Source
Medline

Abstract

Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic disorder with a unique cognitive profile in which verbal abilities are markedly stronger than visuospatial abilities. This study investigated the claim that orientation coding is a specific deficit within the visuospatial domain in WS. Experiment 1 employed a simplified version of the Benton Judgement of Line Orientation task and a control, length-matching task. Results demonstrated comparable levels of orientation matching performance in the group with WS and a group of typically developing (TD) controls matched by nonverbal ability, although it is possible that floor effects masked group differences. A group difference was observed in the length-matching task due to stronger performance from the control group. Experiment 2 employed an orientation-discrimination task and a length-discrimination task. Contrary to previous reports, the results showed that individuals with WS were able to code by orientation to a comparable level as that of their matched controls. This demonstrates that, although some impairment is apparent, orientation coding does not represent a specific deficit in WS. Comparison between Experiments 1 and 2 suggests that orientation coding is vulnerable to task complexity. However, once again, this vulnerability does not appear to be specific to the population with WS, as it was also apparent in the TD controls.

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