Language abilities in adults with Down syndrome: Searching for language markers of age-related cognitive changes in individuals with intellectual disabilities

Language abilities in adults with Down syndrome: Searching for language markers of age-related cognitive changes in individuals with intellectual disabilities

Elisa Mattiauda 1 ; Prof Angela Hassiotis 1 ; & Dr Alexandra Perovic 1

  1. University College London

Abstract

We outline below a proposed research study for which data collection is expected to begin in Spring 2021.

Individuals with Down Syndrome experience accelerated ageing rates and are at increased risk of developing early onset Alzheimer's disease. Deterioration of cognitive functions and daily living skills associated with ageing and dementia seems to be common in older adults with Down Syndrome, though it is unclear how language and communication skills are affected in this population. Studies of children and adolescents with Down Syndrome highlight global delays in language development, as well as disproportionate weaknesses in selected areas, such as morphology and syntax. The proposed research intends to characterize the language profile of adults with Down Syndrome and examine the relationship between language abilities and cognitive domains that are particularly affected by Alzheimer's progression in this population. Vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatic skills will be examined cross-sectionally in a large sample of adults with Down Syndrome and adults with intellectual disability. The neuropsychological evaluations will include a series of standardized assessments and experimental procedures designed to tap into key areas of cognition and language, as well as informant reports gathered from carers. In addition, the research will examine the impact of demographic and individual factors (e.g. living arrangements, levels of physical, cognitive and social stimulation) on changes observed in cognitive and language areas. We hope that such characterization will have significant impact on improving the early diagnosis of dementia in individuals with Down Syndrome and intellectual disability by identifying possible clinical language markers of Alzheimer's disease progression, as well as incentivize targeted speech and language support strategies for this population.


Poster:

Poster

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