Intervención cognitiva en personas con síndrome de Down realizada por la Fundación Aura y NeuronUP

Cognitive intervention for people with Down syndrome carried out by the Aura Fundación and NeuronUP


By Aura Fundación

In September 2017, Aura Fundación began the implementation and adaptation of the program NeuronUP for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. One of the main reasons why we chose this program is because of the type of activities it offers, since they adhere to the principles of “generalization and/or transfer.” These principles are in line with our work philosophy-methodology—the mediated learning approach—since we have been able to confirm that it benefits both cognitive and functional levels because it is easily implemented on a daily basis. In addition, it increases the person’s motivation and participation and improves their personal autonomy and self-esteem, as well as favors the maintenance of the psychosocial skills necessary for their social activities and the activities of daily living.

Working with computers and tablets is more challenging and stimulating

We focus on the field of cognitive training—so to be able to train the different abilities—and go through the program introduction and preparation, which involves “learning to learn.” This includes defining one and each of the cognitive functions and the different processes.

For example, we explain what attention means and describe the subtypes (sustained attention, selective attention, alternating attention) while using practical examples of daily life in its different contexts (family, work, leisure, etc.).

Cognitive intervention for people with Down syndrome

Intervention’s first phase

In the first phase of cognitive intervention for people with Down syndrome, we begin with a small group of participants and use NeuronUP as our cognitive stimulation program. We review “one by one” all the program’s activities (both digital and paper-and-pencil formats) and design a program with different levels of difficulty.

One of the most positive aspects of using NeuronUP is that the activities for adults utilize a very practical and functional content as well as an attractive presentation consisting of photographs.

Of all the cognitive functions that can be trained with NeuronUP, we have selected those that we believe may initially be most beneficial for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. We planned the sessions to proceed gradually by adjusting the difficulty level to the advances and needs of the participants.

Over the months in which the program has been implemented, we have made some adjustments regarding the time before the activity begins and the type of activities. For example, we eliminated some activities because the participants found them difficult to understand and, in other cases, we extended the time before the activity begins because they were unable to read the instruction before the activity started.

These are some of the specific changes we made:

  • To extend the time invested in reasoning activities.
  • To extend the time invested in memory activities.
  • To extend the time invested in activities of high reading content.
  • To reduce the time of sustained attentiontt activities.
  • To reduce the time of monotonous activities.
  • To increase the number of activities involving simulators or games.
  • To eliminate activities that involved complex reasoning (e.g., copying mirror models, subtractions, etc.).

One of the most useful aspects is the possibility of listening to the instructions while being able to read them. At the same time, it is very beneficial to be able to practice the activity briefly to ensure that it has been properly understood.

Learn how to use NeuronUP

Sign up to our free online course

Intervention’s second phase

In the second phase of cognitive intervention for people with Down syndrome, we designed a new program with the same levels of complexity as the previous ones but with new activities. These programs included the changes that we had already planned with the aim of adapting them to the profile and needs of the participants; we added new activities as well as simulators to improve specific aspects related to the activities of daily living.

At the same time, we have been able to gather from the observations made that after six months of training with NeuronUP, the participants show a greater degree of autonomy and initiative as well as a greater ability in carrying out the activities and using the computer, navigating the NeuronUP website, starting and managing their own session, etc.

In addition, when it comes to the transfer of activities of daily living via the mediated learning strategy, the participants have also improved their ability to identify the  cognitive functions trained by relating them to activities and/or tasks they carry out in their daily lives.

Thanks to all these changes, we have been able to increase adherence to cognitive stimulation sessions, motivation and the number of participants.




Intervention’s third phase

We are currently in our third phase of cognitive intervention for people with Down syndrome and have developed a new program by adding new activities which can be carried out through 5 different levels of difficulty. These levels respond to different needs and skills that we have observed in our participants, given that their profiles are very different:

  • Level 1: a high level for people with good comprehension and cognitive skills. They work entirely on their own.
  • Level 2: a medium-high level for participants who read and write well but whose pace is slower and/or need occasional support.
  • Level 3: an intermediate level for those individuals who read and write but with a medium-low comprehension rate.
  • Level 4: a medium-low level for those participants who have reading difficulties but are able to solve simple reading activities with visual support.
  • Level 5: a low level that includes only visual activities for all those people who have not acquired the reading and writing skills and need support.

The methodology we use allows us to train the different skills by planning their specific objectives, sequencing them and analyzing the strategies used, thus facilitating the discussion of ideas and the generalization of what has been learned, as well as the evaluation of progress achieved periodically.

Participants are highly appreciative of this program as the activities are stimulating and often challenging.

More and more people have asked to use NeuronUP. This gives us great satisfaction as we are convinced that it has an impact on the improvement of cognitive performance and has a positive influence on the acquisition of skills and personal autonomy; in short, it improves employability and a better quality of life.

Learn how to use NeuronUP

Sign up to our free online course

Intervention with NeuronUP in people with mild cognitive impairment

We are also using NeuronUP in a personalized manner as a non-pharmacological intervention with a small group of already retired people participating in the ‘Aura Vital’ program. Some of these people suffer from mild cognitive impairment and others have already been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

We are convinced that the program NeuronUP helps improve the functions that have been preserved and slows cognitive decline, since it is based on the fundamental principles of cognitive intervention: neuroplasticity and psychostimulation.

In summary, Aura Fundación believes that the program NeuronUP is a useful tool that allows us to tailor the intervention to the abilities and needs of the participants, as well as to promote maintenance and/or improvement of cognitive function.

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