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Neuroreport. 2007 May 7;18(7):635-9.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of verbal learning in children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-7334, USA.


We examined functional MRI activation patterns corresponding to verbal paired associate learning in a group of 11 children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure compared with 16 typically developing children. Among the typically developing children, prominent activation was observed in the left medial temporal lobe, left dorsal frontal lobe and bilateral posterior temporal cortices during learning and recall. Analyses revealed significantly less activation in left medial and posterior temporal regions and significantly more activation in right dorsal frontal cortex in the alcohol-exposed children relative to controls, even when group differences in memory test performance were statistically controlled. These results may indicate an increased reliance on frontal memory systems in the children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, perhaps compensating for dysfunctional medial temporal memory systems. Our findings are consistent with neuropsychological and structural imaging studies, and provide the first evidence for brain activation abnormalities, independent of group performance differences, during verbal learning and recall in children with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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