Effects of Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure on Verbal Memory Revealed with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Group, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7334, USA.
Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP (Impact Factor: 2.13). 07/2009; 30(3):185-92. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181a7ee6b
Source: PubMed


Efforts to understand specific effects of prenatal methamphetamine (MA) exposure on cognitive processing are hampered by high rates of concomitant alcohol use during pregnancy. We examined whether neurocognitive systems differed among children with differing prenatal teratogenic exposures when they engaged in a verbal memory task.
Participants (7-15 years) engaged in a verbal paired associate learning task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. The MA group included 14 children with prenatal MA exposure, 12 of whom had concomitant alcohol exposure. They were compared with 9 children with prenatal alcohol but not MA exposure (alcohol-exposed only) and 20 unexposed controls. Groups did not differ in age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Participants' IQ and verbal learning performance were measured using standardized instruments.
The MA group activated more diffuse brain regions, including bilateral medial temporal structures known to be important for memory, than both the alcohol-exposed only and the CON groups. These group differences remained after IQ was covaried. More activation in medial temporal structures by the MA group compared with the alcohol-exposed only group cannot be explained by performance differences because both groups performed at similar levels on the verbal memory task.
More diffuse activation in the MA group during verbal memory may reflect recruitment of compensatory systems to support a weak verbal memory network. Differences in activation patterns between the MA and alcohol-exposed only groups suggest that prenatal MA exposure influences the development of the verbal memory system above and beyond effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Available from: Susan Y Bookheimer, Feb 21, 2014
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    • "This effect was not observed in the alcohol-exposed group, suggesting that children with PME may have more severe cognitive outcomes than those exposed to alcohol alone. Given the prevalence of concomitant alcohol exposure in PME research, as indicated by the several of the studies reviewed here (Lu et al. 2009; Roussotte et al. 2011), such findings warrant further replication. "
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    • "These findings might indicate that children with prenatal methamphetamine exposure have to recruit compensatory systems to support a weak verbal memory network. Although explanations for activation differences remain speculative, these results may suggest that prenatal methamphetamine exposure affects brain networks involved in verbal memory above and beyond the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol alone (Lu et al. 2009) (Fig. 11). "
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