The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which adults with Down syndrome (DS) are able to utilise advance information to prepare reach to grasp movements. The study comprised ten adults with DS; ten children matched to an individual in the group with DS on the basis of their intellectual ability, and twelve adult controls. The participants used their right hand to reach out and grasp illuminated perspex blocks. Four target blocks were positioned on a table surface, two to each side of the midsagittal plane. In the complete precue condition, participants were provided with information specifying the location of the target. In the partial precue condition, participants were given advance information indicating the location of the object relative to the midsagittal plane (left or right). In the null condition, advance information concerning the position of the target object was entirely ambiguous. It was found that both reaction times and movement times were greater for the participants with DS than for the adults without DS. The reaction times exhibited by individuals with DS in the complete precue condition were lower than those observed in the null condition, indicating that they had utilised advance information to prepare their movements. In the group with DS, when advance information specified only the location of the target object relative to the midline, reaction times were equivalent to those obtained when ambiguous information was given. In contrast, the adults without DS exhibited reaction times that were lower in both the complete and partial precue conditions when compared to the null condition. The pattern of results exhibited by the children was similar to that of the adults without DS. The movement times exhibited by all groups were not influenced by the precue condition. In summary, our findings indicate that individuals with DS are able to use advance information if it specifies precisely the location of the target object in order to prepare a reach to grasp movement. The group with DS were unable, however, to obtain the normal advantage of advance information specifying only one dimension of the movement goal (i.e., the position of an object relative to the body midline). (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- Down syndrome