Neuroscientists in the Down Syndrome Research Group at the University of Arizona have created a battery of tests that quickly aid in the assessment of the cognitive abilities of persons with Down syndrome.
The tests - a series of computer exercises that are not language dependent - offer clinicians and other researchers a new tool that can help determine both the developmental trajectory of those with Down syndrome and aid in devising drug and behavioral interventions.
The study, "Development and validation of the Arizona Cognitive Test Battery for Down syndrome," is published in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. It occurs once in approximately 800 to 1,000 live births and those with it often have mild to severe developmental disabilities as well as health issues that include heart defects and the early onset of Alzheimer's dementia.
New research also suggests connections between chromosome 21 and other genes point to some of these problems.
Down syndrome primarily affects three major parts of the brain: the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum.
Lynn Nadel, a Regents' Professor in psychology who leads a research group said that the battery is a set of computer-based tests that was designed primarily for adolescents. Different kinds of tests - memory tests, motor tests, attention tests - are targeted toward particular brain regions that are at risk with Down syndrome. The tests are meant to be portable so they can be done on a computer and are as free of language as possible.
University of Arizona