Three experiments were designed to investigate possible abnormal face processing strategies in children with Williams syndrome (WS). A group of twelve children with WS were compared to two groups of typically developing children matched on mental age and on chronological age. In the first two experiments, children were to match faces based on high spatial frequency (i.e., local facial features) or low spatial frequency information (i.e., global configuration of faces). In the same manner as controls, children with WS showed better performance when using low than high spatial frequency. In the third experiment, children were to match facial identity based on external or internal facial features. Results indicated that WS children showed the same pattern as typically developing children, preferring external parts to internal parts. These findings suggest that holistic face encoding is preserved in the WS population.
KEYWORDS: face processing, Williams Syndrome, high and low spatial frequency, external and internal facial features