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Department of Cognitive Science

Williams syndrome: Dissociation and mental structure

Mitch Parsell (
Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney


Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic disorder that, because of its unique cognitive profile, has been marshalled as evidence for the modularity of both language and social skills. But emerging evidence suggests the claims of modularity based on WS have been premature. This paper offers an examination of the recent literature on WS. It argues the literature gives little (if any) support for mental modularity. Rather than being rigidly modular, the WS brain is an extremely flexible organ that that co-opts available neural resource in a highly dynamic manner to cope in the world.

Citation details for this article:

Parsell, M. (2010). Williams Syndrome: Dissociation and Mental Structure. In W. Christensen, E. Schier, and J. Sutton (Eds.), ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 277-284). Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science.

DOI: 10.5096/ASCS200942
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