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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Adult Female Fragile X Premutation Carriers Exhibit Age- and CGG Repeat Length-Related Impairments on an Attentionally Based Enumeration Task.

  • Author(s): Goodrich-Hunsaker, Naomi J
  • Wong, Ling M
  • McLennan, Yingratana
  • Tassone, Flora
  • Harvey, Danielle
  • Rivera, Susan M
  • Simon, Tony J
  • et al.

The high frequency of the fragile X premutation in the general population and its emerging neurocognitive implications highlight the need to investigate the effects of the premutation on lifespan cognitive development. Until recently, cognitive function in fragile X premutation carriers (fXPCs) was presumed to be unaffected by the mutation. Although as a group fXPCs did not differ from healthy controls (HCs), we show that young adult female fXPCs show subtle age- and significant fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene mutation-modulated cognitive function as tested by a basic numerical enumeration task. These results indicate that older women with the premutation and fXPCs with greater CGG repeat lengths were at higher risk for difficulties in the deployment of volitional attention required to count 5-8 items, but spared performance when spatial shifts of attention were minimized to subitize a few (1-3). Results from the current study add to a growing body of evidence that suggests the premutation allele is associated with a subtle phenotype and implies that the cognitive demands necessary for counting are less effectively deployed in female fXPCs compared to HCs.

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