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Title page for ETD etd-03302010-140730

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Lense, Miriam Diane
URN etd-03302010-140730
Title The Attentional Blink Paradigm in Williams Syndrome
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Elisabeth Dykens Committee Chair
Sasha Key Committee Member
  • Williams syndrome
  • attentional blink
  • attention
  • attentional disengagement
Date of Defense 2010-03-30
Availability unrestricted
Attentional problems are widely reported in Williams syndrome (WS), with some reports suggesting nearly 65% prevalence of ADHD. I investigated the temporal dynamics of attention in WS via an attentional blink (AB) paradigm. The AB refers to the decreased ability to detect a second target when it is presented in close proximity to an initial target, and it has been shown to be altered in individuals with ADHD.

The study indicated that individuals with WS had poorer target detection abilities than did typically developing (TD) individuals, as demonstrated by their poorer performance in picking out targets in a rapidly presented stream of visual stimuli. Their AB was equal in magnitude but prolonged in duration compared with TD individuals. The prolonged AB in WS could not be explained by their lower IQ, working memory, or processing speed scores.

The results of this study are in concordance with the small body of literature pointing to problems with attentional disengagement in WS. It also fits with the neuroimaging research in WS, which demonstrates structural and functional dysfunction of the intraparietal sulcus, an area of the brain utilized during the AB task. Importantly, this study reveals that attentional problems in WS extend beyond the spatial domain and demonstrates a need to extend research in WS to other salient aspects of the WS phenotype. Finally, this study suggests that individuals along a broad spectrum of cognitive abilities may be included in research with the AB paradigm.

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