The relationship between sound-shape matching and cognitive ability in adults with Down syndrome.

Sarah Hamburg, CM Startin, André Strydom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Down syndrome (DS), the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, is characterised by a pattern of cognitive deficits hypothesised as relating to later developing neural systems. Multisensory integration (MSI) has been shown to benefit cognitive performance on numerous tasks in the typically developing population and is implicated in the early development of various cognitive processes. Given these developmental links of both MSI and DS it is important to determine the relationship between MSI and DS. This study aimed to characterise sound–shape matching performance in young adults with DS as an indicator of MSI (correct response rate around 90% in typically developing individuals). We further investigated the relationship between task performance and estimated cognitive ability (verbal and non-verbal) in addition to everyday adaptive behavior skills. Those answering correctly (72.5%) scored significantly higher across cognitive and adaptive behavior measures compared to those answering incorrectly. Furthermore, 57.1% of individuals with estimated cognitive ability scores below the median value answered correctly compared to 89.5% of individuals scoring above the median, with similar values found for adaptive behavior skills (57.9% vs. 94.4%). This preliminary finding suggests sound–shape matching deficits are relatively common in DS but may be restricted to individuals of lower ability as opposed to being a general characteristic of DS. Further studies investigating aspects of MSI across a range of modalities are necessary to fully characterise the nature of MSI in DS and to explore underlying neural correlates and mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537–547
Number of pages11
JournalMultisensory research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2017

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