Conclusions: Revisiting the Puzzle of Williams Syndrome

Barbara Landau and James E. Hoffman

in Spatial Representation

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195385373
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979189 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Series in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Conclusions: Revisiting the Puzzle of Williams Syndrome

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This chapter concludes by proposing that the unusual profile of people with WS can best be understood by considering the rich cognitive structures inherent in human spatial representational systems, and their modulation through variation in developmental timing. Contrary to the original description of the cognitive profile of people with WS, the chapter suggests that the profile is remarkably similar to that of much younger normally developing children, both for space and language. This outcome can be understood as the product of highly specialized systems of cognition that emerge along an abnormal developmental timeline. Thus missing genes do not directly cause abnormalities in specific cognitive systems; rather, they target developmental mechanisms that underlie the emergence of all specialized cognitive structures. This hypothesis accounts for a broad range of evidence on the spatial and linguistic profile of people with WS, and sheds new light on how normal development of space and language emerge.

Keywords: cognitive profile; developmental mechanisms; slow development; normal development; developmental timing; domain specialization; spatial representation; developmental arrest; cognitive growth

Chapter.  13812 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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