Background Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reveals brain activation abnormalities during visuo-spatialattention 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.
Methodology 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.
Results 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 prenatalalcohol may impact the maturation of visuo-spatialattention and differentiate those with FASD from controls. Based on this first longitudinalfMRIstudy in FASD children, our novel findings suggest a possible neural mechanism for attention deficits common among individuals with FASD.
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