ERIC Number: EJ694262
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Aug
Reference Count: 53
An Investigation of Executive Function Abilities in Adults with Praderwilli Syndrome
Walley, R. M.; Donaldson, M. D. C.
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, v49 n8 p613-625 Aug 2005
Background: PraderWilli syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder caused by the absence of expression of maternally imprinted genes on the long arm of chromosome 15 (15q 11-13). There are two main genetic sub-types: (1) deletion, caused by the absence of paternally derived genetic material; and (2) uniparental disomy (UPD), where two copies of maternally derived chromosome 15 are present. In addition to generally mildborderline intellectual disability (ID) and the almost universal feature of hyperphagia, PWS is associated with high rates of behaviour problems including temper tantrums, compulsive behaviour, perseverative speech, skin picking and rigid thinking. The present study seeks to explore whether these behaviours are associated with relative deficits in executive function (EF), which comprises the set of non-automatic processes utilized by an individual when faced with a novel situation. Methods: Eighteen adult participants with a clinical diagnosis of PWS (12 with deletion sub-type, 6 with UPD) were recruited from a UK Health Service PWS clinic, and compared with 15 participants of similar age and verbal ability on a series of EF tasks and also Digit Span Forwards. An informant completed two ratings of behaviour, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) and the Dysexecutive Questionnaire (DEX). Results: The PWS group had significantly higher scores on the ABC but not on the DEX. There were no significant differences between the whole PWS group and the comparison group on any of the EF tasks. The deletion sub-type group was significantly poorer at a non-executive task, Digit Span Forwards. There was an unexpected trend for the deletion sub-type group to show more efficient performance on a visuospatial planning task, the Tower of London (TOL), but this trend did not reach significance. Conclusions: The lack of relative deficits in EF task performance does not support the hypothesis that EF differences could account for the high levels of behaviour problems found in PWS. Applying the Baddeley and Hitch model of working memory it is suggested that the PWS group have a relatively intact central executive and visuospatial sketchpad but a relative impairment in the phonological loop, perhaps relating to the capacity of the phonological store. This latter finding seems to be particularly salient for those with a deletion. As differences in EF ability were not found, it is suggested that a region of the brain involved in the modulation of emotion but not particularly with EF, the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), may be implicated in the behaviour problems reported in PWS.
Descriptors: Memory, Health Services, Clinical Diagnosis, Verbal Ability, Genetics, Behavior Problems
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Aberrant Behavior Checklist