Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Schellenberg, E. Glenn,


Psychology, Clinical.




Children with Williams syndrome (WS) have a unique neuropsychological profile characterized by extremely poor visuospatial skills but relatively preserved verbal skills. This pattern, in addition to anecdotal reports of relatively preserved music skills in these children, suggested that children with WS may be relatively good at processing auditory patterns in general. In the present study, language and music skills of 19 children with WS (8-13 years) were examined and compared to 19 normal children (5-12 years) equivalent for mental age (M = 8 years, 1 month) based on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R). Measures included the following: WISC-III (WS group only), PPVT-R, Auditory Closure Test, Controlled Oral Word Association Test, Digit Span, Sentence Memory Test, parent and child questionnaires and interviews, and the Tonal and Rhythm subtests of Gordon's Primary Measures of Music Audiation (1986), which requires discrimination between pairs of melodic or rhythmic fragments. As expected, results confirmed that the previously observed pattern of better verbal than visuospatial performance in children with WS was also evident in the present sample. For the WS group, the pattern of performance on linguistic tests appeared to be based on the complexity of processing required, indicating that basic auditory perception is more intact in these children than rote learning or auditory memory. The present study provided the first empirical evidence of relatively intact musical abilities among children with WS, commensurate with their relatively strong receptive vocabulary (a relatively simple language skill). In addition, significant but moderate correlations between language and music skills were found for both groups of children, which implies that language and music skills are subserved by a common mechanism used to process auditory patterns in general. The results of the present study also raise the possibility that auditory processing among children with WS might be atypical when compared to normal children. For example, children with WS exhibit a rather intense interest in music that is accompanied by strong affective responses. Moreover, this peculiar affinity for music may be related to the hyperacusis that is observed among these children. The interest and emotional responsivity toward music among children with WS combined with their relatively intact music abilities suggest that the purposeful development of musical skills could help to enrich the lives of these children. Continued research to explore and expand upon the present findings would be theoretically and clinically beneficial.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1997 .D66. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-08, Section: B, page: 4459. Adviser: E. Glenn Schellenberg. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1997.