Visual search deficits in Williams-Beuren syndrome
Neuropsychologia , Volume 45 - Issue 5 p. 931- 938
Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a rare genetic condition characterized by several physical and mental traits, such as a poor visuo-spatial processing and a relative strength in language. In this study we investigated how WBS subjects search and scan their visual environment. We presented 10 search displays on a computer screen to WBS subjects as well as control subjects, with the instruction to find a target out of several stimulus elements. We analyzed the eye movement patterns for fixation characteristics and systematicy of search. Fixations generally lasted longer in WBS subjects than in control subjects. WBS subjects made more fixations at a stimulus element they had already looked at and more fixations that were not aimed at a stimulus element at all, decreasing the efficiency of search. These outcomes lead to the conclusion that visual search of individuals with Williams-Beuren syndrome is less effective than in control subjects. This finding may be related to their motor deficits, an impaired processing of global visual information and/or deficits in working memory and could reflect impairments within the dorsal stream.