Riverbend DS Assocation Home Page » Resources » Journal Abstracts » Down Syndrome Research and Practice »
Down Syndrome Research and Practice 1995 Abstracts
Children with Down syndrome who had followed a memory training programme were reassessed three years later. The programme, which involved training rehearsal and organisation strategies to improve short term memory, had resulted in significant gains on tests of auditory and visual memory skills. These gains were maintained for at least eight months after the end of the training period. However, after three years, memory capacity was found to have declined, although word spans were still significantly greater than those found before the training programme began. By comparing the performance of the children in the follow-up study with an untrained group matched for age, vocabulary and grammar understanding, it was concluded that this increase could be attributed to developmental progress and not to any residual effects of training. None of the children had continued to practice the memory training routines resulting in the loss of the trained memory skills over time.
This paper reports evidence for the importance of reading instruction for memory and language development in children with Down syndrome. Language and memory measures for 14 children were obtained over nearly four years as part of our research investigating the effect of teaching memory strategies. Half of the children were readers or became readers in the course of the study. At the start of the study, there were no significant differences between readers and non-readers in vocabulary and grammar understanding, or in auditory and visual memory performance. By the end of the study, a significant advantage for the readers was noted for all language and memory measures. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed, as well as the implications for educational intervention.
A group of 4 to 18 year old children with Down syndrome (N=62) was presented with a set of working memory tasks, including auditory and visual serial recall of words; standardised digit span tasks and a rhyme judgement task. The serial recall tasks involved pictures of common objects or the spoken names of these objects and the children had to recall lists which varied on a number of parameters, including word length and the acoustic similarity of the object names. It was found that contrary to expectation the children's performance showed significant effects of word length and acoustic similarity, which are normally taken to indicate phonological storage and speech based rehearsal. These effects were found in both the auditory and visual presentation conditions and for the youngest age group. In addition to this evidence for speech based storage in short-term memory there was also evidence of the children utilising visual information in the serial recall tasks. The results are discussed in terms of working memory operation and the implications for memory remediation strategies in children with Down syndrome.