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J Psychiatr Res. 2001 Jul-Aug;35(4):225-9.

Enlarged cerebellar vermis in Williams syndrome.

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Stanford Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94305-5719, USA.


Williams syndrome (WMS) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by relative preservations of language ability and facial processing despite deficits in overall intelligence, problem solving, and visuospatial processing. Subjects with WMS also display hypersocial behavior and excessive linguistic affect during conversations and when giving narratives. Neuroimaging studies have shown global reductions in the brain volumes of subjects with WMS compared with normal controls, but with preservations in cerebellar volume. This study examines the neuroanatomic structure of the cerebellar vermis in 20 subjects with WMS and 20 age- and gender-matched controls via high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. The vermis was divided into lobules I-V, VI-VII, and VIII-X. Lobules VI-VII and VIII-X were both relatively enlarged in the WMS group, and after adjusting for the smaller size of the WMS brain, the posterior vermis was significantly larger in WMS (Mann-Whitney z-value=4.27; P<0.001). Given that reductions in posterior vermis size have been implicated in flattened affect and autistic features, increased vermis size in subjects with WMS may be related to the hypersociality and heightened affective expression characteristic of individuals with this genetic condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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