Visuospatial support for verbal short-term memory in individuals with Down syndrome

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Research in Developmental Disabilities
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Duarte C.P.
Covre P.
Braga A.C.
de Macedo E.C.
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Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) tend to have impaired verbal short-term memory (STM), which persists even when visual support is provided for carrying out verbal tasks. Objective: The current study aims to investigate whether visuospatial support, rather than just visual, can compensate for verbal STM deficits in these individuals. The performance of 25 children and adolescents with DS (mean age=12.5, SD=3.8) on five word span tasks was compared with that of two groups of typically developing children, matched for mental age (N=25; mean age=6.0, SD=2) and for receptive vocabulary (N=25; mean age =4.0, SD=8). Four of the five tasks varied in terms of input and output - verbal and/or visual - and the fifth task included a spatial component in addition to visual input and output. DS individuals performed equally bad in the pure verbal task and in those with visual components; however, there was a significant improvement when the spatial component was included in the task. The mental age matched group outperformed DS individuals in all tasks except for that with the spatial component; the receptive vocabulary matched group, outperformed DS individuals only in the pure verbal task. We found that visuospatial support improves verbal STM in individuals with DS. This result may have implications for intervention purposes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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