Cross-sectional and longitudinal assessment of cognitive development in Williams syndrome.
Farran EK., Purser HRM., Jarrold C., Thomas MSC., Scerif G., Stojanovik V., Van Herwegen J.
Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic syndrome. As with all rare syndromes, obtaining adequately powered sample sizes is a challenge. Here we present legacy data from seven UK labs, enabling the characterisation of cross-sectional and longitudinal developmental trajectories of verbal and non-verbal development in the largest sample of individuals with WS to-date. In Study 1, we report cross-sectional data between N = 102 and N = 209 children and adults with WS on measures of verbal and non-verbal ability. In Study 2, we report longitudinal data from N = 17 to N = 54 children and adults with WS who had been tested on at least three timepoints on these measures. Data support the WS characteristic cognitive profile of stronger verbal than non-verbal ability, and shallow developmental progression for both domains. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal data demonstrate steeper rates of development in the child participants than the adolescent and adults in our sample. Cross-sectional data indicate steeper development in verbal than non-verbal ability, and that individual differences in the discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal ability are largely accounted for by level of intellectual functioning. A diverging developmental discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal ability, whilst marginal, is not mirrored statistically in the longitudinal data. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data are discussed with reference to validating cross-sectional developmental patterns using longitudinal data and the importance of individual differences in understanding developmental progression.