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Visual and spatial long-term memory: differential pattern of impairments in Williams and Down syndromes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2005

Stefano Vicari
Clinic and Scientific Institute (IRCCS), Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Santa Marinella, Italy.
Samantha Bellucci
Clinic and Scientific Institute (IRCCS), Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Santa Marinella, Italy.
Giovanni Augusto Carlesimo
IRCCS, Santa Lucia Foundation and Clinica Neurologica, Università Tor Vergata, Roma, Italy.
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This purpose of this study was to investigate visual-object and visual-spatial long-term memory (LTM) abilities in individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) and Down syndrome (DS). Four groups comprised of 15 participants were included: WS group (10 males) with a mean chronological age (CA) of 18 years 5 months, SD 6 years 4 months, and mean mental age (MA) of 6 years 8 months, SD 1 year 5 months; WS control group (eight males) comprised of typically developing children (CA mean 6y 7mo, SD 8mo); DS group, (10 males, CA mean 16y 5mo, SD 5y 10mo; MA mean 5y 4mo, SD 8mo); and DS control group (seven males) formed by typically developing children (CA mean 5y 6mo, SD 7mo). In the WS and DS groups mental age and IQ were evaluated with the Form L-M of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. Results showed that individuals with WS showed decreased learning of visual-spatial material but substantially typical learning of visual-object patterns as compared to a group of mental-age-matched typically developing children. Individuals with DS showed the opposite profile, i.e. typical learning of visual-spatial sequences but impaired learning of visual-object patterns. These results, showing an interesting double dissociation between these two genetic syndromes in the learning of visual-object patterns as opposed to visual-spatial data, support the interpretation of learning disability as a heterogeneous condition, characterized by potentially very different qualitative profiles of cognitive impairment.

Original Articles
© 2005 Mac Keith Press

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