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Exploring the Williams syndrome face-processing debate: the importance of building developmental trajectories - Essay Example

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The past decade has seen an increasing rise in interest and need for resolving the topic of face processing in Williams syndrome (WS). The early findings about the normally developing face-processing module were questioned by studies proposing that WS patients used a different balance of cognitive processing from controls, even when their behavioural scores were in the normal range…
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Exploring the Williams syndrome face-processing debate: the importance of building developmental trajectories
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Download file to see previous pages In the first experiment photos of real faces were used as stimuli. Although, the accuracy exhibited by all the groups was broadly same, the WS subjects performed worse in configural condition when faces were upright and were less sensitive than controls to face inversion. The second experiment made an attempt to measure the face processing ability by making use of a storybook. The results showed that the effect of face inversion was significant in control group but not so in the WS patients. The study also revealed a possibility of different developmental patterns of face processing in the two groups. The findings of the experiment 3 reported a configural-processing deficit in WS patients with respect to their chronological age (CA) and the performance level. The study had made use of schematic faces and non-face stimuli and had brought forth an unexpected finding on the comparison of the accuracy data in the simultaneous vs. sequentially presented conditions. It was observed in the simultaneous condition that the control group responded more accurately to configurally transformed faces than to the ones which were featurally transformed.
William syndrome is a rare, genetically based syndrome in which around 25 genes are deleted on one copy of chromosome 7. This genetic deficit results in cognitive impairment (usually mild mental retardation) and in spatial cognition, number, planning, and problem solving. The IQ scores of the William syndrome patients usually fall in the range of 50s and 60s. The affect of William syndrome on the language and face processing domains is the area of prominent interest to the experts in the field of cognitive sciences.
Experiment 1: Investigating configural and featural processing of real faces
The study was aimed to assess the hypotheses which puts forth the scientific idea that- "If there has occurred normal development of face recognition in WS patients, then they need to present comparable accuracy to control in the discrimination of target face from a featurally or configurally transformed version of the target. Also to add, if the WS face processing has developed to normal level then performance should be equally influenced by the inversion and the nature of transformation (Karmiloff-Smith, A., et al., 2004).
To test the above hypotheses, fourteen participants with WS were tested using the competitive test design developed by Mondloch and colleagues (Mondloch, Le Grand, & Maurer, 2002). Two of the fourteen were dropped because of the presence of significant difficulty to understand the test. To the remaining 12 participants of the study trial, the method employed for language ability assessment was the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test (Dunn & Dunn, 1981) and for visuospatial ability assessment was the Pattern Construction
Subtest of the British Abilities Scale (Elliot, Smith, & McCulloch, 1996). On the basis of chronological age, gender and socioeconomic status, a control group was individually matched to each participant in the WS group. A photo of a real face was used to create featural and configural sets of new faces, and acted as the stimuli.
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