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We investigated differences in multiple-object tracking among individuals with Down syndrome (DS) as compared to typically developing children matched on a visual–spatial mental age of approximately 5.5 years. In order to ensure that these effects did not originate in differences in encoding or reporting the positions of targets in distracters after a delay, immediate and delayed report were measured for static items. Although their immediate and delayed report for multiple static items was comparable to that of the typically developing children, the participants with DS performed as if they were only capable of tracking a single item at a time regardless of the number of targets that needed to be tracked. This finding is surprising because the operations used in multiple-object tracking are thought to be necessary for visuospatial tasks, which are an area of relative strength among persons with DS. These results call into question the idea that abilities or deficits in multiple-object tracking predict visuospatial performance, and highlight ways that atypical development can inform our understanding of typical development.
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