Memory abilities in children with Williams syndrome

Stefano Vicari, Daniela Brizzolara, Giovanni Augusto Carlesimo, Grazia Pezzini, Virginia Volterra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic condition characterised by intellectual disability, typical facial dysmorphology and several medical anomalies. A specific neuropsychological profile with a dissociation between language (relatively preserved) and visuo-spatial abilities (more seriously impaired) has been hypothesised in these children. Memory abilities of these patients have not been adequately investigated, although they may substantially contribute to better understanding their neuropsychological profile. The present study aimed at investigating verbal and spatial memory in patients with WS (N = 16). Their performance was compared with that of normally developing children on tasks of verbal and spatial span and immediate and delayed recall of verbal and visuoperceptual materials. Memory abilities of WS children appear to be characterised by defective visuo-spatial memory, both in the short-term and long-term domain, and a dissociation between normal short- but deficient long-term verbal learning. Results are interpreted by supporting the thesis that intellectual disability reflects the defective functioning of a complex system in which some cognitive competencies may be disrupted more than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-514
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)


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