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Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2010;47(2):125-31.

Auditory and visual processing in Williams syndrome.

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  • 1Behavioral Neurogenetics Center, Feinberg Department of Child Psychiatry, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tikva, Israel.


Williams syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a deletion on chromosome 7. It is characterized by a range of medical problems in addition to severe impairments in visuospatial processing and oversensitivity to sounds, including hypersensitivity to sounds (hyperacusis) and extreme fear from sounds (phonophobia). In spite of impairments in visuospatial processing, object and face processing abilities are relatively preserved in WS.The present review discusses the growing research in the field linking the unique sensory phenotype in WS with underlying structural and functional brain abnormalities. In addition, possible associations between the genetic defect and the abnormal sensory processing are presented. Because Williams syndrome is etiologically homogeneous, it may serve as a model to promote understanding of visuospatial and auditory processing in humans. The findings may also have important implications for other developmental psychopathologies, such as autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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