New paper about Williams syndrome and face processing

Cashon, Cara, Ha, Oh-Reyong, DeNicola, Christopher, Mervis, Carolyn Toddlers with Williams Syndrome Process Upright but not Inverted Faces Holistically. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. DOI10.1007/s10803-013-1804-0

It sounds interesting that toddlers with Williams syndrome have “extreme interest in faces from a very young age”, but I just want to know how the performance of these toddlers compares with the abilities of toddlers without Williams syndrome. If interest isn’t reflected in superior performance that might be interesting in itself, I guess, but it would be more interesting if there was a definite relationship between interest and perrformance.

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  • Chris DeNicola  On May 23, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Hi, I’m Chris DeNicola (the third author on the paper you wrote about). It would indeed be interesting to directly compare infants with and without Williams syndrome. However, it’s difficult to recruit a young enough sample of infants with Williams syndrome. Typically developing infants demonstrate holistic processing for upright but not inverted face by about 7 months (Cashon & Cohen, 2004), and Williams syndrome is often not diagnosed that young. However, there has been prior research demonstrating that early visual experience is necessary for the development of face processing skills (see Le Grande et al., 2001), and experience with certain types of faces does affect ability to process them (e.g. Sangrigoli et al., 2005). Let me know if you have any questions about the research!

  • C. Wright  On May 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for your comment Chris. It is always exciting when a researcher leaves a comment. I can see why you and other researchers are interested in the early childhood and infancy development of face processing, but at the same time I’m mindful that face recognition is an ability that peaks at an extraordinarily late age (after the age of 30 I recall), is an ability that develops late, and is also an untaught ability that is found in a very large range of levels. I can see how prosopagnosia in a young child could completely mess up their social development, but I’ve got to wonder about the significance of differences in face processing in babies or toddlers, unless it is known to be relevant to major deficits or gifts. Has anyone done a study of the face memory ability (in absolute terms, not relative terms) of adults with Williams syndrome?

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