Neurocognitive rehabilitation of Down syndrome

Blog post by Jean-Adolphe Rondal, Ph.D.,, Emeritus Professor of Psycholinguistics at the University of Liège, Belgium, Juan Perera, Ph.D.,, Director of the Center Principe de Asturias, University of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Spain,  and Donna SPIKER, Ph.D.,  Program Manager of the Early Childhood Program, SRI International, Menlo Park, California, USA.

Down syndrome is one of the most commonly occurring developmental disorders, with considerable bodies of research within many different disciplines. Despite calls for strong interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to both research and treatment of developmental disorders, including Down syndrome, bringing together knowledge across disciplines in a systematic and comprehensive way is still rare. 

The purpose of the book is to represent some of the major ways in which a comprehensive neurocognitive rehabilitation program, focusing in Down syndrome, may be conceptualized and carried out. This book truly brings together the wide spectrum of specific knowledge available from the genotype, brain development, and the behavioural phenotype, and shows why true cross-fertilization of information and approaches across disciplines will lead to advances  in our understanding of Down syndrome and other developmental disorders as well as advances in applied treatment. By comprehensive, we mean  a neurocognitive approach that can be connected transactionally with the major therapeutic endeavours in neighboring fields such as neurogenetics, experimental environmental enrichment in animal models, molecular and genic therapies, pharmacology, pediatrics, education and cardiology for infants and children with Down syndrome.

The book provides practical guidance on how to implement a systematic neurocognitive rehabilitation program. It covers every step from basic research to clinical application and assessment to promote maximum efficiency. To date such a comprehensive and cross-discipline theoretical and applied treatment, has been lacking. The book provides cutting edge reviews and analyses by world-leading researchers and clinicians that synthesize and summarize the newest findings across many disciplines, and highlight the practical treatment implications of the findings.   

The book is divided into 5 sections that serve to orient the reader to several broad areas of inquiry, with summaries of the wealth of information about Down syndrome available in multiple disciplines. Each chapter includes applied treatment implications of basic scientific research, followed by a summary of the chapter and a complete list of references.

Section I deals with definition, methodology and assessment  issues. Section II deals with genetics, brain, and animal models relating to early neurocognitive rehabilitation, including new experimental perspectives of molecular and genic therapies, the effects of environmental enrichment, adequate nutrition and food supplement in their effects on brain and nervous system development.

Section III is devoted to pharmacological and medical management and treatment. Recent advances in pharmacotherapy for children with Down syndrome are discussed, dealing particularly with cognitive enhancement. Section IV is concerned with an analysis of key aspects of early neurocognitive rehabilitation and intervention  (motor development, memory, speech and language, temperamental issues, and parental involvement). Finly, section V evaluates the prospects for future (but not so remote in time) genetic therapies in Down syndrome and stresses the necessity to maintain a strong neurobehavioural component in any future “hybrid” (i.e., genetic-neurobehavioral) rehabilitation praxis.

 Readers with backgrounds or interest in many different fields will all find new information and perspectives from the comprehensive approach taken in this exciting volume.

 Neurocognitive rehabilitation of Down syndrome is edited by Jean-Adolphe Rondal, Juan Perera and Donna Spiker and published by Cambridge University Press, 2011.


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