Sequential aiming movements and the one-target advantage in individuals with Down syndrome
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Research has revealed that individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have elevated reaction times, longer movement times, and greater movement errors during single-target single-limb actions compared to their typically developing (TD) peers. These perceptual-motor impairments have been attributed to both central processes and the physical phenotype associated with DS. The purpose of the present study was to directly investigate these possible central and peripheral deficits by examining how individuals with DS plan and execute more complex movements. Three groups (DS, TD, and individuals with an undifferentiated intellectual disability; UID) of 8 participants completed a single target movement, a two-target movement performed by a single arm, and a two-target movement where the first movement was performed with one arm and the second movement performed with the other arm. For all groups and all conditions, movement times revealed a one-target advantage (OTA). Specifically, times to the first target were longer in the two-target responses compared to the single-target response. In general, the OTA finding reveals that persons with DS utilise planning strategies similar to their TD peers when performing sequential actions involving two targets and two arms. Furthermore, because the OTA was observed in both the single- and two-arm two-target responses the interference in movement one associated with having to make a subsequent movement is not due to peripheral processes associated with single limb constraints. Rather, individuals with DS treat movements within a sequence as functionally dependent. Thus, the central processes associated with timing the implementation of the second element of the movement appear to be responsible for the interference that leads to the OTA.
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