As well as general intellectual difficulties, children and adults with Down syndrome exhibit a number of specific information processing problems, some of which are associated with an atypical pattern of brain organization in these individuals. For example, compared to other children and adults of a similar mental age, persons with Down syndrome have difficulty performing sequential limb and oral movements on the basis of verbal direction. The position taken in this research program is that this problem is due to the functional dissociation of the cerebral areas responsible for speech perception and those responsible for movement organization. This research program has four interrelated objectives. The first is to develop a neurobehavioral index of cerebral organization in persons with Down syndrome that will reliably predict individual differences in verbal-motor performance. The protocol, which involves performing rapid limb and oral movements following the dichotic presentation of verbal stimuli, will be validated using the latest in brain-imaging technology. The second objective is to use the brain- imaging technology to extend the understanding of cerebral organization in persons with Down syndrome to visual-spatial function, visual- language function and visual and auditory attentional processes. The third objective involves studies to extend research on sequential oral and limb movements to movements involving the coordination of effectors with each other and with information from the environment. The final objective involves experiments conducted to determine if verbal-motor performance findings involving children and adults with Down syndrome generalize to perceptual-motor skill acquisition. Of interest is whether or not the neurobehavioral and neurophysiological indices of cerebral organization associated with the first two research objectives predict skill acquisition in different instructional and rehabilitation contexts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-MRG-C (07))
Program Officer
Hanson, James W
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Mcmaster University
Zip Code
L8 3-Z5
Bunn, Lindsay; Roy, Eric A; Elliott, Digby (2007) Speech perception and motor control in children with Down syndrome. Child Neuropsychol 13:262-75
Heath, Matthew; Welsh, Timothy N; Simon, Dominic A et al. (2005) Relative processing demands influence cerebral laterality for verbal-motor integration in persons with Down syndrome. Cortex 41:61-6
Welsh, Timothy N; Elliott, Digby (2004) Multimodal inhibition of return effects in adults with and without Down syndrome. Dev Neuropsychol 25:281-97
Welsh, Timothy N; Elliott, Digby; Simon, Dominic A (2003) Cerebral specialization and verbal-motor integration in adults with and without Down syndrome. Brain Lang 84:152-69
Bunn, Lindsay; Welsh, Timothy N; Simon, Dominic A et al. (2003) Dichotic ear advantages in adults with Down's syndrome predict speech production errors. Neuropsychology 17:32-8
Bunn, Lindsay; Simon, Dominic A; Welsh, Timothy N et al. (2002) Speech production errors in adults with and without Down syndrome following verbal, written, and pictorial cues. Dev Neuropsychol 21:157-72
Robertson Ringenbach, Shannon D; Chua, Romeo; Maraj, Brian K V et al. (2002) Bimanual coordination dynamics in adults with Down syndrome. Motor Control 6:388-407
Robertson, Shannon D; Van Gemmert, Arend W A; Maraj, Brian K V (2002) Auditory information is beneficial for adults with Down syndrome in a continuous bimanual task. Acta Psychol (Amst) 110:213-29
Welsh, T N; Elliott, D (2001) Gender differences in a dichotic listening and movement task: lateralization or strategy? Neuropsychologia 39:25-35