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Language and Cognition in Williams and in Down's Syndrome

University of Essex

Supported by the ESRC (2001-2003) and the Research Promotion Fund of the University of Essex (1995, 1996, 2000-2001)

Williams syndrome (WS) is a neuro-developmental disorder which is characterized by an unusual fractionation of language abilities and other cognitive functions. Down’s syndrome is the most common identifiable cause of intellectual disability, accounting for approximately 20% of the mentally handicapped population. DS is caused by an extra copy of a segment of Chromosome 21 that is associated with specific physical features and cognitive delay.

The general aim of our research is to understand the representation and mechanisms of language and cognition in children with WS and DS. Within this project, I am studying (together with research students) morphological aspects of their language (inflection, compounding, derivational morphology) and their syntax (phrase structure, anaphoric binding, passives, functional categories). Christine Temple has been investigating their vocabulary, arithmetical skills, and literacy. The data we are gathering consist of spontaneous speech samples, standardized tests, elicited production tasks, comprehension experiments.

Project staff

Harald Clahsen
Christine Temple
Melanie Ring
Susan Sherwood
Mayella Almazan