Memory and Learning in Intellectual Disability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within cognitive domains, memory is one of the most investigated processes in people with intellectual disability (ID), and studies have documented severe deficits in its functioning. Data indicate that memory impairment is not homogeneous across all individuals with ID, but it is related to the specific etiology of ID.The chapter reviewed literature on memory and learning in individuals with ID considering memory as multicomponential, enlisting multiple cognitive functions, and changing over developmental time. The profiles of memory and learning exhibited by well-defined etiological groups of neurodevelopmental disorders, as Williams syndrome (WS) and Down syndrome (DS), were analyzed.In studies on DS, a widespread deficit in the explicit domain of long-term memory (LTM) compared to the implicit one was demonstrated, while studies on WS have showed more mixed results. Regarding the implicit LTM domain, there is evidence of an opposite implicit LTM profiles in individuals with DS (relatively preserved) and with WS (relatively impaired), indicating that the assumed proficient implicit LTM abilities cannot be confirmed in all individuals with ID.Results on short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) also showed peaks and valleys in profiles related to specific etiologies of ID and even the relationship between STM and WM, and academic achievement differs according to the different etiologies of ID.In conclusion, differential patterns of memory abilities are documented across different etiological groups of individuals with ID, and the irregularities in the memory profile may reflect discrepancies in the maturation of different cerebral networks linked to a specific genotype.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Academic abilities
  • Cognitive
  • Down syndrome
  • Explicit memory
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Implicit memory
  • Long-term memory
  • Short-term memory
  • Williams syndrome
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Memory and Learning in Intellectual Disability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this