Executive function and memory in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Child Neuropsychol. 2011;17(3):290-309. doi: 10.1080/09297049.2010.544650.


A complex relation exists between memory and executive functioning (EF), particularly when learning and recalling multifaceted or extensive information ( Moscovitch & Winocur, 2002 ). A common instrument for evaluating this relationship is the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure (ROCF; Rey, 1941 ; Osterrieth, 1944 ). The ROCF has proved particularly useful in pediatric research; however, little research has been conducted among children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Seventy children (35 FASD, 35 control), aged 6 to 12 years, were tested using the ROCF. All participants with FASD had received a diagnosis according to the Canadian guidelines for FASD ( Chudley et al., 2005 ) using the 4-digit diagnostic code ( Astley, 2004 ). Significant group differences were revealed with children with FASD demonstrating substantial difficulties in organization, accuracy, and memory. Among children with FASD, a distinctive profile emerged, lending support to the argument that children with FASD experience deficits in EF and memory throughout their development. Information from the present study will not only help to improve understanding of functioning in this population but also provide insight into how to deal with EF and memory deficits in terms of testing, treatment, and intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / physiopathology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Visual Perception / physiology