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Working memory in children and adolescents with Down syndrome: evidence from a colour memory experiment

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Background: This paper reports information on the visual and verbal short-term memory of individuals with Down syndrome. Methods: Colour memory in 16 children and adolescents with Down syndrome was compared with that of 16 typically developing children matched for receptive vocabulary. It was suggested that focal colours should be remembered more successfully than non-focal colours on the basis that the former could be remembered using a verbal recoding strategy. However, children with Down syndrome, for whom a deficit in verbal short-term memory makes the use of such a strategy unlikely, should remember focal and non-focal colours equally well. More importantly, if individuals with Down syndrome have more developed visual memory abilities than control children, they should outperform them in recognising non-focal colours. Results: Although the group with Down syndrome demonstrated significantly better Corsi blocks performance than controls, and displayed similar levels of colour knowledge, no advantage for colour memory was found. Non-focal colours were remembered by individuals with Down syndrome as successfully as focal colours but there was no indication of a visual memory advantage over controls. Focal colours were remembered significantly more successfully than non-focal colours by the typically developing children. Conclusion: Their focal colour memory was significantly related to digit span, but only Corsi span was related to focal colour memory in the group with Down syndrome.
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Keywords: Down syndrome; memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Oxford, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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