The domain of figurative language comprehension was used to probe the developmental relation between language and cognition in typically developing individuals and individuals with Williams syndrome. Extending the work of Vosniadou and Ortony, the emergence of nonliteral similarity and category knowledge was investigated in 117 typically developing children between 4 and 12 years of age, 19 typically developing adults, 15 children with Williams syndrome between 5 and 12 years of age, and 8 adults with Williams syndrome. Participants were required to complete similarity and categorization statements by selecting one of two words (e.g., either "The sun is like ___" or "The sun is the same kind of thing as ___") with word pairs formed from items that were literally, perceptually, or functionally similar to the target word or else anomalous (e.g., moon, orange, oven, or chair, respectively). Results indicated that individuals with Williams syndrome may access different, less abstract knowledge in figurative language comparisons despite the relatively strong verbal abilities found in this disorder. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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