Learning and memory require balance between inhibition and excitation in the brain. In Down Syndrome, according to Dr Omar Khwaia, there appears to be excessive inhibition by GABA neurons. How to overcome this? Currently Roche is in clinical trials for a drug that decreased excessive inhibition in mouse models. There are other options now but first you have to know the Down syndrome behavioral types.
Down Syndrome behavioral phenotypes are:
- Language deficits
- Social Strengths
- Visual processing is better than verbal processing
- Motor deficits
- Poor problem solving
- Task persistence
Down syndrome Strengths:
- Visual spatial processing
- Core social relationships
- Receptive language
- Verbal processing
- Expressive language
- Motor function
- Goal-directed behavior
- Stubborn/strong-willed streak
Lisa Daunhauer, ScD and Deborah Fidler, PhD have identified tasks parents and teachers can do to improve executive functioning in Down syndrome. Executive functioning is the cognitive processes integral to adaptive, goal-oriented actions.
Executive functions are:
- Working Memory
- Motor Planning
To improve EF in Down syndrome, Lisa and Deborah suggest:
For Inhibition: Games like Red light/Green light and Duck, Duck, Goose plus daily routines that include an element of delay (sitting before television is turned on.)
For Working Memory: Games like memory and Simon Says plus daily routines that include organizers, activity boards, and schedules. Prompts are good too; such as what goes next, what just happened; first this than that.
For Shifting: Games that use a search or scan of objects on a page plus reading joke and riddle books.