About Down's Syndrome : Face processing ability in people who have Down’s syndrome and people who have Williams syndrome

Can you help with this research study?

This study aims to investigate how adults who have Down’s syndrome and adults who have Williams Syndrome perceive and process faces.

The research team are looking for people have Down’s syndrome (ages 18 to 35 years) to take part in tests at a central London location or a mutually agreed convenient location (please contact the team for more information about this). Travel costs will be reimbursed.

Participation involves one or two sessions (as preferred) taking around two hours each. Participants will play computer games that involve looking at faces presented on a screen and making judgements about them (e.g., identity: Is that Tom? emotional expression: Are they happy?).

The team hope that their study will be an initial steppingstone to better understand how people who have Down’s syndrome process faces. Face processing is effortless for most people. However, for people who have Down’s syndrome difficulties with face recognition and the ability to recognise people or their expressions have been reported (Williams et al., 2005; Turk & Cornish, 1998). This could negatively impact their interpersonal interactions. That is, if people have impaired face processing ability  there is a risk that they will become isolated, or are more vulnerable to stranger danger, with downstream impact on their ability to become independent. It is hoped the study will help us to better understand the processes that support face processing in people who have Down’s syndrome and how this might differ from the general population. This knowledge could be used to inform training designed to improve face processing, with potential knock on effects for social interaction for people who have Down’s syndrome.

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If you have any questions please email: imares01@mail.bbk.ac.uk

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Inês Mares is a post-doctoral researcher at Birkbeck College. She has spent the last three years looking at social understanding of faces and emotions in individuals with Down Syndrome and Williams Syndrome using both behavioural methods and neuroimaging.
Louise Ewing is a lecturer at the University of East Anglia. In her research she uses behavioural techniques and electroencephalography to investigate the mechanisms of face and person perception in typically development and in individuals with Down syndrome, Williams syndrome and autism.
Emily Farran is a Professor in Developmental Psychology at Surrey University, with considerable research experience investigating visuo-spatial cognition in typical and atypical populations. Her research group, specialises in visual and spatial cognition in typical development and in neurodevelopmental disorders, including Down syndrome and Williams syndrome.
Marie Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck focusing on how we process faces and facial expressions of emotion. She uses special paradigms to determine which information is critical for the different judgements that we make about faces, and how this information is processed by our brains.

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