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The present study was designed to determine whether the verbal-motor performance deficits sometimes exhibited by Down syndrome persons interfere with their capacity to acquire a novel motor task. Mentally handicapped adults with and without Down syndrome, as well as nonhandicapped adults, practiced a verbally cued three-element movement sequence. When the verbal cue was terminated during retention, Down syndrome subjects made no more errors and performed the motor sequence just as rapidly as did the other mentally handicapped adults. However, Down syndrome subjects took longer to organize and initiate their movements. Both mentally handicapped groups performed more poorly than nonhandicapped subjects. The results provide partial support for the notion that Down syndrome persons have difficulty organizing limb movements on the basis of verbal instruction.
This research was supported by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services through the Ontario Mental Health Foundation.
Request reprints from Digby Elliott, Department of Physical Education, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1.