Short-term memory in persons with intellectual disabilities and Down's syndrome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present study was designed to investigate verbal and spatial short-term memory abilities in persons with Down's syndrome (DS) and intellectual disability (ID) of different aetiology. For this purpose, we compared performances of DS (n = 15; mean mental age = 5.2 years; SD = 1.2 years; mean chronological age = 16.6 years; SD = 2.9 years) and ID subjects (n = 14; mean mental age = 5.8 years; SD = 2.1 years; mean chronological age = 16.4 years; SD = 2.5 years) with those of normally developed subjects matched for mental age (n = 24) on tasks of forward and backward immediate recall of verbal and spatial sequences. Our results are discussed in the light of the Working Memory model developed by Baddeley (1986, 1990). Altogether, our data documents a deficit of verbal and spatial backward spans in persons with DS. The deficit seems to be specific for this particular aetiology group, confirming the hypothesis that ID is not a uniform condition, characterized by an undifferentiated delay of the cognitive development, but rather that it is characterized by a deficit in a complex cognitive system in which some cognitive abilities can be disrupted more than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-537
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Rehabilitation
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Education
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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