Word fluency in Williams syndrome: Evidence for unusual semantic organization

Christopher Jarrold, S.J. Hartley, C. Phillips, Alan Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction : Tests of semantic fluency require participants to produce as many examples as possible of a category in a limited time. It has been suggested that individuals with Williams syndrome perform relatively well on such tasks, and in addition produce particularly unusual category exemplars. This may reflect an abnormal organisation of semantic information. Methods : A study is reported which tests these claims, by comparing the semantic fluency of a group of individuals with Williams syndrome with that of controls matched for level of vocabulary. Individuals' responses are analysed in terms of absolute number of items produced, frequency and typicality of these items as category exemplars, and the ordering of semantically related items. Results : The results show that individuals with Williams syndrome produce as many items as controls, and that the items produced are not particularly unusual or atypical. However, the ordering of items provides evidence that individuals with Williams syndrome may have less sophisticated underlying semantic structures. Conclusions : The implications of these findings are discussed with reference to the development of conceptual knowledge in Williams syndrome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-318
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive neuropsychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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