About Down's Syndrome : Testing routes to keep track of frontal brain functions in adults

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Testing routes to keep track of frontal brain functions in adults with Down syndrome

Outline of the research

This research investigates a new test to assess brain functions in adults with Down syndrome, specifically the frontal functions of the brain, such as planning, organising and memory abilities. We will be asking participants to play games on an iPad that test these types of abilities.

We are interested in these brain functions because research suggests that frontal brain functions may provide signs of dementia related symptoms in adults with Down syndrome. It can be very difficult to detect signs of dementia in individuals with learning difficulties, so it is important to develop efficient, reliable tests.

This study itself is not looking to diagnose dementia symptoms in participants, rather, we are investigating the feasibility of a new test that could be used to keep track of frontal brain functions in future.

The task extracts measures of three core components of executive function (frontal brain functions) using one simple framework, allowing for controlled comparisons of performance across the different components of executive function. We will test the reliability of this measure. This framework has the potential to provide a simplified, fast screening measure.

This research is funded by the Jerome Lejeune Foundation.


Dr Liz Smith, Research Assistant in Developmental Psychology at the University of Bristol, completed her PhD in Bristol exploring ways to enhance memory in individuals with Down syndrome. She is currently involved in a vocabulary intervention for children with Down syndrome with colleagues at the University of Oslo, as well as the current project in Bristol.

Prof. Chris Jarrold is Professor of Cognitive Development at the University of Bristol. His research investigates the causes and consequences of working memory development. As part of this he examines working memory in individuals with developmental conditions,  including Down syndrome, where he has explored the links between verbal working memory and language development.

Contact details

Email: Liz.smith@bristol.ac.uk

Phone: Liz on 07834721687


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