BackgroundIntellectual Disability (ID) is characterized by deficits in intellectual functions such as reasoning, problem-solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, and learning. As new avenues are emerging for treatment of genetically determined ID (such as Down’s syndrome or Fragile X syndrome), it is necessary to identify objective reliable and sensitive outcome measures for use in clinical trials.ObjectiveWe developed a novel visual analogical reasoning paradigm, inspired by the Progressive Raven’s Matrices, but appropriate for Intellectually Disabled patients. This new paradigm assesses reasoning and inhibition abilities in ID patients.MethodsWe performed behavioural analyses for this task (with a reaction time and error rate analysis, Study 1) in 96 healthy controls (adults and typically developed children older than 4) and 41 genetically determined ID patients (Fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome and ARX mutated patients). In order to establish and quantify the cognitive strategies used to solve the task, we also performed an eye-tracking analysis (Study 2).ResultsDown syndrome, ARX and Fragile X patients were significantly slower and made significantly more errors than chronological age-matched healthy controls. The effect of inhibition on error rate was greater than the matrix complexity effect in ID patients, opposite to findings in adult healthy controls. Interestingly, ID patients were more impaired by inhibition than mental age-matched healthy controls, but not by the matrix complexity. Eye-tracking analysis made it possible to identify the strategy used by the participants to solve the task. Adult healthy controls used a matrix-based strategy, whereas ID patients used a response-based strategy. Furthermore, etiologic-specific reasoning differences were evidenced between ID patients groups.ConclusionWe suggest that this paradigm, appropriate for ID patients and developmental populations as well as adult healthy controls, provides an objective and quantitative assessment of visual analogical reasoning and cognitive inhibition, enabling testing for the effect of pharmacological or behavioural intervention in these specific populations.