Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prenatal alcohol exposure alters development of brain function: Neural basis for symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Date:
August 4, 2014
Source:
Children's Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute
Summary:
Medical researchers have found that children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) showed weaker brain activation during specific cognitive tasks than their unaffected counterparts.

This ia a fMRI scan of working memory activation in typically-developing children.
Credit: The Saban Research Institute

In the first study of its kind, Prapti Gautam, PhD, and colleagues from The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles found that children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) showed weaker brain activation during specific cognitive tasks than their unaffected counterparts. These novel findings suggest a possible neural mechanism for the persistent attention problems seen in individuals with FASD. The results of this study will be published in Cerebral Cortex on August 4.

Related Articles


"Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used to observe brain activity during mental tasks in children with FASD, but we are the first to utilize these techniques to look at brain activation over time," says Gautam. "We wanted to see if the differences in brain activation between children with FASD and their healthy peers were static, or if they changed as children got older."

FASD encompasses the broad spectrum of symptoms that are linked to in utero alcohol exposure, including cognitive impairment, deficits in intelligence and attention and central nervous system abnormalities. These symptoms can lead to attention problems and higher societal and economic burdens common in individuals with FASD.

During the period of childhood and adolescence, brain function, working memory and attention performance all rapidly improve, suggesting that this is a crucial time for developing brain networks. To study how prenatal alcohol exposure may alter this development, researchers observed a group of unaffected children and a group of children with FASD over two years. They used fMRI to observe brain activation through mental tasks such as visuo-spatial attention -- how we visually perceive the spatial relationships among objects in our environment -- and working memory.

"We found that there were significant differences in development brain activation over time between the two groups, even though they did not differ in task performance," notes Elizabeth Sowell, PhD, director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at The Saban Research Institute and senior author on the manuscript. "While the healthy control group showed an increase in signal intensity over time, the children with FASD showed a decrease in brain activation during visuo-spatial attention, especially in the frontal, temporal and parietal brain regions."

These results demonstrate that prenatal alcohol exposure can change how brain signaling develops during childhood and adolescence, long after the damaging effects of alcohol exposure in utero. The atypical development of brain activation observed in children with FASD could explain the persistent problems in cognitive and behavioral function seen in this population as they mature.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Gautam, S.C. Nuñez, K.L. Narr, S.N. Mattson, P.A. May, C.M. Adnams, E.P. Riley, K.L. Jones, E.C. Kan, and E.R. Sowell. Developmental Trajectories for Visuo-Spatial Attention are Altered by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Longitudinal FMRI Study. Cereb. Cortex, August 4, 2014 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhu162

Cite This Page:

Children's Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute. "Prenatal alcohol exposure alters development of brain function: Neural basis for symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804122632.htm>.
Children's Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute. (2014, August 4). Prenatal alcohol exposure alters development of brain function: Neural basis for symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804122632.htm
Children's Hospital Los Angeles Saban Research Institute. "Prenatal alcohol exposure alters development of brain function: Neural basis for symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140804122632.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) — More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) — A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins