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Shannon D. Ringenbach and Dawn A. Lantero

This study examined the influences of intention on continuous bimanual circle drawing performed by adults with Down syndrome (DS) and mental age (MA) and chronological age (CA) matched comparison groups. The task was performed with preferred and instructed coordination patterns paced by a 500 ms metronome. While all participants adopted an in-phase coordination mode in the preferred conditions, only the adults with DS were unable to perform in-phase coordination when instructed to do so. We suggest that intention to perform specific coordination patterns taxes the attentional resources available, and mental age may be a precipitating factor to appropriate attention directing when performing multiple tasks. Results are discussed with respect to the developmental differences in attentional resources.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach and Anna Balp-Riera

Ten adults with Down syndrome (DS), 10 mental age-matched, and 10 chronological age-matched participants drummed continuously with both hands for 10 s in response to verbal in-phase (”up,” “down”) and anti-phase (”left,” “right”), visual in-phase (video of both drumsticks moving up and down together) and anti-phase (video of the left, then right drumstick hitting each drum), and auditory in-phase (sound of both drums being hit, then cymbal being hit) and anti-phase (sound of one drum being hit, then the other drum being hit) instructions. Timing and coordination consistency were similar for in-phase and anti-phase drumming for adults with DS, whereas in-phase was more consistent than anti-phase drumming for CA. In addition, spatial-temporal measures showed performance advantages when using visual instructions.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach, Annica B. Ericsson, and James C. Kao

The aim of this study was to investigate differences among information that varied in interference during drawing tasks in adults with DS. Adults with DS and two comparison groups (Mental Age = MA; Chronological Age = CA) drew bimanual circles and lines coordinated with 3 decreasing rate metronomes: visual information in front of the participant (visual interference), visual information under the hands (reduced visual interference), and auditory information (no visual interference). There were no group differences between metronome conditions, although adults with DS maintained a constant rate despite changing metronome rates. For measures of between hand coordination, the MA group was more variable than adults with DS and the CA group and circles were more variable than lines. These results suggest that adults with DS have difficulty following timing information, regardless of type, for repetitive tasks.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach, Romeo Chua, Brian K. V. Maraj, James C. Kao, and Daniel J. Weeks

Previous experiments involving discrete unimanual tasks have shown that individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have auditory/verbal-motor deficits. The present study investigated unimanual and bimanual continuous perceptual-motor actions in adults with DS. Ten adults with DS, 10 typical adults, and 10 children drew continuous circles at increasing periods bimanually and unimanually with each hand. Movement was paced by either a visual or an auditory metronome. The results revealed that for circle shape and coordination measures, children and adults were more accurate with the visual metronome, whereas adults with DS were more accurate with the auditory metronome. In the unimanual tasks, adults with DS displayed hand asymmetries on spatial measures. In the bimanual task, however, adults with DS adopted an in-phase coordination pattern and stability more similar to adults than children. These results suggest that bimanual coordination in adults with DS is functioning effectively despite hand asymmetries evident in unimanual performance.

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Chih-Chia (JJ) Chen, Shannon D.R. Ringenbach, Nathaniel E. Arnold, and Kahyun Nam

Deficits in motor performance have been well documented in individuals with Down syndrome (DS). However, only a few studies have focused on manipulative skills and older adults in this population. Given the associations between manipulative skills and daily living activities, more work is needed to examine the aging effect on individuals with DS. A total of 54 adults with DS participated in this study. The results indicated that older participants showed more lateralization than younger participants. They exhibited superior dominant hand preference compared to younger participants. In addition, participants with DS with high verbal ability had better performance in manual dexterity and handgrip force. Therefore, in the clinical setting, assessing mental age may help in identifying individuals with DS at a higher risk of motor impairment. Future work should examine additional determinants with a large sample size to understand the development of manipulative skills in individuals with DS. Furthermore, additional studies are needed to investigate the associations between mental age and other cognitive functions and motor performance in this population.

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Brian K.V. Maraj, Li Li, Rebecca Hillman, Jennifer J. Jeansonne, and Shannon D. Ringenbach

This study examined motor learning in persons with Down syndrome (DS), persons with undifferentiated developmental disabilities (UnDD), and persons without disabilities (ND). Participants were instructed (either by verbal instruction or visual demonstration) to move a cursor to three items displayed on a computer screen. Results indicated that the ND group had superior performances to the other two groups for both instruction conditions. Participants with DS performed the task with both longer response and movement times when instructed verbally. In a transfer condition, results revealed the UnDD group displayed poor transfer, while participants with DS showed positive transfer from visual to verbal protocols. These results provide some evidence that persons with DS may be able to consolidate visual information to facilitate verbal-motor learning.

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Shannon D.R. Ringenbach, Kristina Zimmerman, Chih Chia Chen, Genna M. Mulvey, Simon D. Holzapfel, Daniel J. Weeks, and Michael H. Thaut

The present study used a synchronization-continuation paradigm during continuous bimanual drumming with different cues in 17 persons with Down syndrome, eight typical persons with similar mental age and eight typical persons with similar chronological age. The task required participants to hit two drums with their hands at the same time following music (e.g., a tune with various decibel drum beats), auditory (e.g., sound of drumbeat), verbal (e.g., voice saying “drum”), and visual (e.g., video of both hands moving up and down and hitting the drums together) cues for 10 seconds, then continue drumming in the absence of cues for another 10 seconds. In general, when all groups were following the music cues their movements were faster as compared with their movements in the auditory, verbal, and visual conditions. In addition, when following visual cues all groups produced more accurate and consistently coordinated movements than with the other cue types. Further, participants with Down syndrome often stopped moving when the pacing cues were eliminated indicating a need for continuous cues for continuous movements.