The aim of this project is to systematically characterize different types of temporal order memory abilities in individuals with Down syndrome (DS), individuals with Williams syndrome (WS), and typically developing (TD) children from 4 to 9 years of age.
Episodic memory is our memory for the events that make up our lives: What we ate for lunch today, what we did last weekend, what we did on our last vacation. Episodic memories consist of three fundamental components: ‘what’ (what happened to whom), ‘where’ (where did the event take place) and ‘when’ (when did the event/action take place relative to other events/actions). It is the relational binding of these three components, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’, that makes each episodic memory unique.
One powerful approach to studying episodic memory consists of investigating its components in isolation. In line with this approach, we recently completed a systematic evaluation of the development of allocentric spatial memory capacities, the ‘where’ component of episodic memory, in TD children, and the state of these capacities in mature individuals with DS or WS, two neurodevelopmental disorders known to impact the hippocampus and episodic memory. Altogether, our studies identified delays, impairment, and preservation of specific aspects of spatial memory in these three groups that are consistent with, and contribute to, their unique episodic memory profiles.
The current project will characterize the temporal order learning and memory abilities, the ‘when’ component of episodic memory, in individuals with DS or WS, and in TD children. Findings from this project will help explain how the emergence and development of temporal order memory contributes to the emergence and development of episodic memory. The characterization of individual profiles of temporal order memory abilities in individuals with DS and WS will provide a perspective on the realm of possibilities for each individual, facilitating the implementation of targeted strategies to ensure that they can attain their maximal independence and autonomy.