Computer Exercises Assess Severity

USA TODAY, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Computer Exercises Assess Severity


A battery of tests that quickly aids in the assessment of the cognitive abilities of persons with Down syndrome has been created by neuroscientists in the Down Syndrome Research Group at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who collaborated on the development of the tests with colleagues from Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, Md.) and Emory (Atlanta, Ga.) universities. The tests--series of computer exercises that are not language dependent--offer clinicians and other researchers a new tool that can help determine the development trajectory of those with Down syndrome and aid in devising drug and behavioral interventions.

Jamie Edgin, a member of the UA psychology department, says the test is portable and can be administered in about two hours. "In the past when we would assess cognition in Down syndrome, it would be over the course of several days. This is really compact and practical."

Lynn Nadel, a regents professor in psychology who leads the research group, explains that the concept for the test battery originated about 15 years ago, but the actual task of constructing it, the "hard slog of validating each of them, was about three years of work."

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It occurs once in approximately 800 to 1,000 live births and those with it often have mild to severe developmental disabilities as well as health issues that include heart defects and the early onset of Alzheimer's dementia. …

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