Functional MRI and response inhibition in children exposed to cocaine in utero. Preliminary findings

Dev Neurosci. 2009;31(1-2):159-66. doi: 10.1159/000207503. Epub 2009 Apr 17.


This study investigated the potential long-term effects of cocaine exposure on brain functioning using fMRI in school-aged children. The sample included 12 children with prenatal cocaine exposure and 12 non-exposed children (8-9 years old). Groups did not differ on IQ, socioeconomic status, or perinatal risk factors. A response inhibition task was administered during an fMRI scan using a 1.5-T MRI system. Task performance did not differentiate groups, but groups were differentiated by patterns of task-related brain activity. Cocaine-exposed children showed greater activation in the right inferior frontal cortex and caudate during response inhibition, whereas non-exposed children showed greater activations in temporal and occipital regions. These preliminary findings suggest that prenatal cocaine may affect the development of brain systems involved in the regulation of attention and response inhibition.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / drug effects
  • Child
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / drug effects
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / pathology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects


  • Cocaine