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Developmental Trajectories for Visuo-Spatial Attention are Altered by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Longitudinal FMRI Study

Gautam P, Nuñez SC, Narr KL, Mattson SN, May PA, Adnams CM, Riley EP, Jones KL, Kan EC, Sowell ER. (2014) Cerebral Cortex doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu162 [Epub ahead of print]  

Web URL: Read more and find related research at PubMed


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (
fMRI) reveals brain activation abnormalities during visuo-spatial attention and working memory among those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in cross-sectional reports, but little is known about how activation changes over time during development within FASD or typically developing children.

We studied 30 controls and 31 individuals with FASD over 2 years (7-14 years at first participation) with a total of 122 scans, as part of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal 
Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Despite comparable performance, there were significant group differences in 
visuo-spatial activation over time bilaterally in frontal, parietal, and temporal regions. Controls showed an increase in signal intensity in these multiple regions whereas FASD participants showed a decrease in brain activation. Effects were also found in 2 small independent samples from the USA, corroborating the findings from the larger group.
Results suggest that the long-lasting effect of 
prenatal alcohol may impact the maturation of visuo-spatial attention and differentiate those with FASD from controls. Based on this first longitudinal fMRI study in FASD children, our novel findings suggest a possible neural mechanism for attention deficits common among individuals with FASD.


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And for more information on the effects of alcohol in pregnancy on brain development and funciton, please see the following lists, which are frequently updated