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Child Neuropsychol. 2007 May;13(3):205-18.

Visuospatial working memory in school-aged children exposed in utero to cocaine.

Author information

1
Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Among the neurocognitive impairments reported as associated with prenatal cocaine exposure, slower response time, and less efficient learning in school-aged children are common to findings from several laboratories. This study presents performance data on a spatial working memory task in 75 prenatally cocaine exposed (CE) and 55 nondrug-exposed (NDE) 8- to 10-year-old children.

METHODS:

Children were administered a novel neuropsychological measure of immediate- and short-term memory for visuospatial information, the Groton Maze Learning Test (GMLT), a computer-based hidden maze learning test that consists of a "timed chase test" (a simple measure of visuomotor speed), eight learning trials followed by a delayed recall trial after an 8-minute delay and a reverse learning trial. Performance is expressed as correct moves per second and number of errors per trial.

RESULTS:

Across all trials, the cocaine-exposed group showed significantly slower correct moves per second and made significantly more errors. There were no significant main effects for amounts of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana exposure. After an 8-minute delay and compared to the eighth trial, cocaine-exposed children showed less consolidation in learning compared to nonexposed children. When asked to complete the maze in reverse, cocaine-exposed children showed a greater decrement in performance (decreased correct moves per second and increased errors) compared to the eighth learning trial.

CONCLUSIONS:

Children exposed in utero to cocaine exhibit a possible impairment in procedural learning and diminished efficiency in creating and accessing an internal spatial map to master the hidden maze.

PMID:
17453830
DOI:
10.1080/09297040600888753
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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