Leila Glass and Sarah Mattson, Ph.D. had a paper come out this week that highlights the neural correlates of academic difficulties in children with FASD. Below are the links to the article and to the “Newswise” press release. First author is Leila Glass (JDP student currently on Internship)
Youth with histories of prenatal alcohol exposure and control youth without this exposure were tested for academic achievement and underwent brain MRI. The alcohol-exposed children performed significantly worse than their peers in all academic areas, with particular weaknesses found in math performance. Brain imaging revealed several brain surface area clusters linked to math and spelling performance. The children without prenatal alcohol exposure demonstrated the expected developmental pattern of better scores associated with smaller brain surface areas, which may be related to a typical developmental process known as pruning. However, alcohol-exposed children did not show this pattern, possibly due to atypical or delayed brain development, which has been observed in other research studies. These results support previous findings of lower academic performance among children prenatally exposed to alcohol compared to their peers, which appear to be associated with differences in brain development, and highlight the need for additional attention and support for these children.