Visual perception and processing in children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: associations with social cognition measures of face identity and emotion recognition.

BACKGROUND: People with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) have difficulty processing social information including facial identity and emotion processing. However, difficulties with visual and attentional processes may play a role in difficulties observed with these social cognitive skills.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study investigated visual perception and processing as well as facial processing abilities in a group of 49 children and adolescents with 22q11DS and 30 age and socio-economic status-matched healthy sibling controls using the Birmingham Object Recognition Battery and face processing sub-tests from the MRC face processing skills battery.

RESULTS: The 22q11DS group demonstrated poorer performance on all measures of visual perception and processing, with greatest impairment on perceptual processes relating to form perception as well as object recognition and memory. In addition, form perception was found to make a significant and unique contribution to higher order social-perceptual processing (face identity) in the 22q11DS group.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate evidence for impaired visual perception and processing capabilities in 22q11DS. In turn, these were found to influence cognitive skills needed for social processes such as facial identity recognition in the children with 22q11DS.