Spatial competences in Williams syndrome: a radial arm maze study

L. Mandolesi, F. Addona, F. Foti, D. Menghini, L. Petrosini, S. Vicari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study was aimed at evaluating spatial function in subjects with Williams syndrome by using the radial arm maze task and comparing their spatial abilities with those of mental age-matched control subjects. Two different paradigms were administered: the free-choice version for analyzing the aspects linked mainly to procedural and mnesic components, the forced-choice version for disentangling components linked to spatial working memory from the procedural ones. The findings evidenced a deficit in the acquisition of procedural competences as well as in the spatial memory processes in Williams subjects. In the free-choice paradigm, they performed worse than control subjects on all parameters analyzed. Namely, they needed more time to complete the task, did not collect all rewards, exhibited low values of the spatial span as well as low percentages of correct visits, and displayed a reduced use of the most efficient exploration strategies. Even in the forced-choice paradigm, Williams subjects made a number of errors significantly higher than control subjects. The marked impairment in spatial information processing is discussed on the light of neuro-anatomical alterations reported in Williams subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • Cognitive behavior
  • Exploration strategies
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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