Face and place processing in Williams syndrome: evidence for a dorsal-ventral dissociation

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Individuals with Williams syndrome (WMS) show an interesting dissociation of ability within the visuospatial domain, particularly between face perception and other visuospatial tasks. In this population, using tasks matched for stimuli, required response, and difficulty (for controls) is critical when comparing performance across these areas. We compared WMS individuals with a sample of typically developing 8- and 9-year-old children, and with a sample of adults, closer to the WMS participants in chronological age, in order to investigate performance across two precisely matched perceptual tasks, one assessing face processing and the other assessing proficiency in processing stimuli location. The pattern of performance seen in WMS, but not in controls, implicates a specific deficit of dorsal stream functioning in this syndrome.

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