A Very Spatial Brain Defect: Gene disorder blocks neural path for vision

9:56am, September 8, 2004

Among its many unusual symptoms, the genetic disorder called Williams syndrome robs people of depth perception and the ability to visualize how different parts assemble into larger objects, as in a simple jigsaw puzzle.

An unusual scarcity of tissue in a small corner of the visual system underlies this particular problem in individuals with Williams syndrome, a new brain-imaging study finds. It appears that, at least with respect to vision, this genetic condition creates a slight defect in an otherwise typical brain.

In contrast, some researchers have proposed that a unique course of brain development occurs in Williams syndrome, which is linked to a missing, roughly 20-gene section of chromosome 7 (SN: 2/26/00, p. 142: Available to subscribers at Genes to Grow On).

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