Preliminary evidence of abnormal white matter related to the fusiform gyrus in Williams syndrome: a diffusion tensor imaging tractography study

Genes Brain Behav. 2012 Feb;11(1):62-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2011.00733.x. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic condition caused by a hemizygous microdeletion on chromosome 7q11.23. WS is characterized by a distinctive social phenotype composed of increased drive toward social engagement and attention toward faces. In addition, individuals with WS exhibit abnormal structure and function of brain regions important for the processing of faces such as the fusiform gyrus. This study was designed to investigate if white matter tracts related to the fusiform gyrus in WS exhibit abnormal structural integrity as compared to typically developing (TD; age matched) and developmentally delayed (DD; intelligence quotient matched) controls. Using diffusion tensor imaging data collected from 40 (20 WS, 10 TD and 10 DD) participants, white matter fibers were reconstructed that project through the fusiform gyrus and two control regions (caudate and the genu of the corpus callosum). Macro-structural integrity was assessed by calculating the total volume of reconstructed fibers and micro-structural integrity was assessed by calculating fractional anisotropy (FA) and fiber density index (FDi) of reconstructed fibers. WS participants, as compared to controls, exhibited an increase in the volume of reconstructed fibers and an increase in FA and FDi for fibers projecting through the fusiform gyrus. No between-group differences were observed in the fibers that project through the control regions. Although preliminary, these results provide further evidence that the brain anatomy important for processing faces is abnormal in WS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Caudate Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnostic imaging
  • Developmental Disabilities / pathology*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Leukoencephalopathies / pathology*
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*
  • Neural Pathways / pathology*
  • Neuroanatomical Tract-Tracing Techniques / instrumentation
  • Occipital Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Occipital Lobe / pathology
  • Radiography
  • Reference Values
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Williams Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Williams Syndrome / pathology*
  • Young Adult