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Down Syndrome NSW
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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Local research published on memory in people with and without Down syndrome - you might have participated in this study

Thanks to James Birdsall (Research and Development, DS NSW) for this summary of a recently released paper.

The Department of Psychology at Macquarie University has recently published the results of a study exploring the implicit and explicit olfactory memory in people with and without Down syndrome. 

The study is of particular interest as Down Syndrome NSW assisted the researchers to recruit participants for the study starting in 2005.  

The study examined differences in implicit memory, where previous experiences aid the person to perform a task without conscious awareness of those experiences, and explicit memory, where the person is intentionally recalling previous experiences and information. These differences were examined by comparing the memory performance of people with Down syndrome, their siblings, children matched on mental age and university undergraduates using olfactory stimuli.  As well as comparing the participant’s implicit and explicit memory, the participants were also compared on two tasks of executive function, which is a theorized cognitive system which controls a person’s cognitive processes such as working memory, problem solving and verbal reasoning.

Fifteen of the participants in the study had Down syndrome, and were aged between 8 and 20 years. The other participants in the study included 11 of their siblings, 17 children matched for mental-age and 21 undergraduate students who comprised the control groups in the study. 

The data collected demonstrated strong evidence for implicit memory for olfactory stimuli, and the participants in the study who had Down syndrome performed comparatively to each of the control groups on the implicit memory task. The participants  with Down syndrome did not perform as strongly as the control groups on the explicit memory task - impairment to executive functioning was identified as a possible cause for this particular finding.

For those who would like to read the article in full, the reference for the study is detailed below, and the article can also be purchased online here

Johns, A., Homewood, J., Stevenson, R. & Taylor, A. (2012). Implicit and explicit olfactory memory in people with and without Down syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33, 583-593.

A further investigation of executive function skills in children with Down syndrome was recently announced by the (US) National Center for Special Education Research.

If you are interested in participating in research either online or in person, take a check here for several current opportunities.

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