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  • Author: Timothy N. Welsh x
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Timothy N. Welsh and Digby Elliott

Previous research has indicated that individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have difficulties processing auditory movement information relative to their peers with undifferentiated developmental disabilities. The present study was conducted to assess whether a model of atypical cerebral specialization could explain these findings. Thirteen adults with Down syndrome (8 men, 5 women), 14 adults with undifferentiated developmental disabilities (7 men, 7 women), and 14 adults without disabilities (8 men, 6 women) performed rapid aiming movements to targets under three conditions: a visual cue at the target location, a visual cue remote from the target location, or a verbal cue. Results revealed that, while the reaction times did not differ between the two groups with disabilities across conditions, the participants with DS, unlike their peers, had significantly longer movement times in the verbal than in two visual conditions. These results are consistent with the model of biological dissociation.

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Steve Hansen, Bridget Sheahan, Melinda Wu, James Lyons, Timothy N. Welsh and Digby Elliott

Adults with Down syndrome (DS), an undifferentiated developmental delay (UnD) and no developmental delay practiced a manual target aiming task either with or without on-line visual feedback. Following acquisition, participants performed a retention test involving the same sensory condition available during practice, followed by a transfer test under the other sensory condition. Although the participants with UnD were highly dependent on visual feedback for movement accuracy, participants with DS relied more on either kinesthetic feedback or feedforward control for spatial precision. Participants in all three groups improved their movement times with practice. This improvement was associated both with an increase in peak velocity and a reduction in the time required to decelerate their aiming movements. Contrary to our expectations, improvements in performance were not specific to the sensory conditions available during practice.