Visuospatial processing is relevantly impaired in people with William syndrome, Reiss et al. (An experiment of nature: brain anatomy parallels cognition and behaviour in Williams syndrome. J. Neurosci. 24, 5009-5015, 2004) hypotesized that the parts of the cortex involved in visuospatial processing might be abnormally small in affected individuals. The authors, using a combination of volumetric analysis and voxel-based morphometry to compare the brains of people with William syndrome and those of control subjects found relevantly decreases in grey matter volume in the areas responsible for visuo-spatial processing.

As people with the syndrome show increased emotional behaviour and are good in face processing, Reiss and his colleagues also looked for changes in brain areas involved in emotion and face processing. In fact, they found that amygdala, orbital and medial prefrontal cortex were larger than normal.

It is also relevant that patients with William syndrome had an 11% reduction in cerebral volume.


BM&L-September 2004