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Configural and local processing of faces in children with Williams syndrome

Three experiments investigated face processing in children with Williams syndrome (WS). In Experiment 1, the ability to discriminate different aspects of faces was compared between WS subjects and a group of children individually matched for chronological age (CA-matches) and another group matched for mental age (MA-matches). In Experiments 2 and 3, the ability to process the local and configural aspects of geometrical patterns and faces was assessed within the same groups of subjects. The results indicated that the WSs' overall performance on face recognition was below that of the CA-matches, but similar to that of the MA-matches. This study revealed in addition that the CA- and MA-matches showed a bias toward a configural mode of face and geometrical shape processing, whereas children with WS did not show any bias. These findings suggest that face processing undergoes an abnormal developmental course in WS.



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