Table_1_Path Learning in Individuals With Down Syndrome: The Floor Matrix Task and the Role of Individual Visuo-Spatial Measures.DOCX
Environment learning is essential in everyday life. In individuals with Down syndrome (DS), this skill has begun to be examined using virtual exploration. Previous studies showed that individuals with DS can learn and remember paths in terms of sequences of turns and straight stretches, albeit with some difficulty, and this learning is supported by their cognitive abilities. This study further investigates environment learning in the DS population, newly examining their ability to learn a path from actual movements, and to learn increasingly long paths, and how their performance relates to their visuo-spatial abilities and everyday spatial activities. A group of 30 individuals with DS and 30 typically-developing (TD) children matched for receptive vocabulary performed a 4 × 4 Floor Matrix task in a grid comprising 16 squares (total area 2.3 × 2.3 meters). The task involved repeating increasingly long sequences of steps by actually moving in the grid. The sequences were presented in two learning conditions, called Observation (when participants watched the experimenter’s moves), or Map (when they were shown a map reproducing the path). Several visuo-spatial measures were also administered. The results showed a clear difference between the two groups’ performance in the individual visuo-spatial measures. In the Floor Matrix task, after controlling for visuo-spatial reasoning ability, both groups benefited to the same degree from the Observation condition vis-à-vis the Map condition, and no group differences emerged. In the group with DS, visuo-spatial abilities were more predictive of performance in the Floor Matrix task in the Observation condition than in the Map condition. The same was true of the TD group, but this difference was much less clear-cut. The visuo-spatial working memory and visualization tasks were the strongest predictors of Floor Matrix task performance. Finally, the group with DS showed a significant relation between Floor Matrix task performance in the Observation condition and everyday spatial activity. These results enlarge on what we know about path learning in individuals with DS and its relation to their visuo-spatial abilities. These findings are discussed within the frame of spatial cognition and the atypical development domain.