Neocortical plasticity deficits in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: lessons from barrel and visual cortex

J Neurosci Res. 2008 Feb 1;86(2):256-63. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21447.


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is characterized by a constellation of behavioral and physiological abnormalities, including learning and sensory deficits. There is growing evidence that abnormalities of neuronal plasticity underlie these deficits. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which prenatal alcohol exposure disrupts neuronal plasticity remain elusive. Recently, studies with the barrel and the visual cortex as models to study the effects of early alcohol exposure on neuronal plasticity shed light on this subject. In this Mini-Review, we discuss the effects of ethanol exposure during development on neuronal plasticity and suggest environmental and pharmacological approaches to ameliorate these problems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / pathology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Visual Cortex / drug effects
  • Visual Cortex / pathology
  • Visual Cortex / physiopathology*