Are jigsaw puzzle skills 'spared' in persons with Prader-Willi syndrome?

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002 Mar;43(3):343-52. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00025.


Background: This three-part study examines previous clinical impressions that people with Prader-Willi syndrome have unusual jigsaw puzzle and word search skills.

Results: Children with Prader-Willi syndrome showed relative strengths on standardized visual-spatial tasks (Object Assembly, Triangles, VMI) in that their scores were significantly higher than age- and IQ-matched peers with mixed mental retardation, but below those of age-matched normal children with average IQs. In striking contrast, children with Prader-Willi syndrome scored on par with normal peers on word searches, and they far outperformed them on the jigsaw puzzles, placing more than twice as many pieces as the typically-developing group. Within Prader-Willi syndrome, puzzle proficiency was not predicted by age, IQ, gender, degree of obesity, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but by genetic subtypes of this disorder.

Conclusions: Findings are discussed in relation to splinter skills in autism, and to cases with autism and chromosome 15 anomalies that include the Prader-Willi region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 15 / genetics*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / complications
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / psychology*
  • Space Perception*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception*