HOW DIFFERENCES IN AGE AND IQ AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING IN WILLIAMS SYNDROME
Description Psychology Degree Awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University Williams Syndrome (WS) is a rare developmental disorder for which problems with mental health and executive function (EF) are common. Literature on the subject has identified specific problems, such as problems with anxiety and inhibition in individuals with WS. While mental health problems and EF deficits are clear, most research has small samples due to the rarity of WS, so predictors of EF and mental health have not been adequately studied. This study focused on the how the factors of age and cognitive ability affect mental health and executive functioning in a large sample of individuals with WS (N=66). In the domain of mental health, somatic problems, thought problems, and attention problems were relative weaknesses. Individual differences analyses showed that age was related to withdrawn/depressed symptoms and aggression symptoms such that older individuals have more withdrawn/depressed symptoms and fewer aggression symptoms. In the domain of EF, initiation, working memory, planning/organization, and monitoring were relative weaknesses. Individual differences analyses showed that age was related to inhibition and working memory such that older individuals have fewer problems with inhibition and working memory than their younger counterparts. Results also showed that people with WS with lower cognitive ability have more problems in thought problems within mental health and inhibition and monitoring within EF. These results expand the knowledge base regarding the cognitive correlates and developmental trajectory of mental health and EF in WS. This line of work is particularly important for giving guidance and preparing families and caretakers to manage possible future problems.
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