Low-Resolution Place and Response Learning Capacities in Down Syndrome

Mathilde Bostelmann, Floriana Costanzo, Lorelay Martorana, Deny Menghini, Stefano Vicari, Pamela Banta Lavenex, Pierre Lavenex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Down syndrome (DS), the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, results from the partial or complete triplication of chromosome 21. Individuals with DS are impaired at using a high-resolution, allocentric spatial representation to learn and remember discrete locations in a controlled environment. Here, we assessed the capacity of individuals with DS to perform low-resolution spatial learning, depending on two competing memory systems: (1) the place learning system, which depends on the hippocampus and creates flexible relational representations of the environment; and (2) the response learning system, which depends on the striatum and creates fixed stimulus-response representations of behavioral actions. Individuals with DS exhibited a preservation of the low-resolution spatial learning capacities subserved by these two systems. In place learning, although the average performance of individuals with DS was lower than that of typically developing (TD) mental age (MA)-matched children and TD young adults, the number of individuals with DS performing above chance level did not differ from TD children. In response learning, the average performance of individuals with DS was lower than that of TD adults, but it did not differ from that of TD children. Moreover, the number of individuals with DS performing above chance level did not differ from TD adults, and was higher than that of TD children. In sum, whereas low-resolution place learning appears relatively preserved in individuals with DS, response learning appears facilitated. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the neural pathways supporting low-resolution place learning and response learning are relatively preserved in DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2049
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 26 2018

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