Amplitude by Peak Interaction but No Evidence of Auditory Mismatch Response Deficits to Frequency Change in Preschool-Aged Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018 May 24;10.1111/acer.13782. doi: 10.1111/acer.13782. Online ahead of print.


Background: Prior studies indicate that the auditory mismatch response is sensitive to early alterations in brain development in multiple developmental disorders. Prenatal alcohol exposure is known to impact early auditory processing. The current study hypothesized alterations in the mismatch response in young children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Methods: Participants in this study were 9 children with a FASD and 17 control children (Control) aged 3 to 6 years. Participants underwent magnetoencephalography and structural magnetic resonance imaging scans separately. We compared groups on neurophysiological mismatch negativity (MMN) responses to auditory stimuli measured using the auditory oddball paradigm. Frequent (1,000 Hz) and rare (1,200 Hz) tones were presented at 72 dB.

Results: There was no significant group difference in MMN response latency or amplitude represented by the peak located ~200 ms after stimulus presentation in the difference time course between frequent and infrequent tones. Examining the time courses to the frequent and infrequent tones separately, repeated measures analysis of variance with condition (frequent vs. rare), peak (N100m and N200m), and hemisphere as within-subject factors and diagnosis and sex as the between-subject factors showed a significant interaction of peak by diagnosis (p = 0.001), with a pattern of decreased amplitude from N100m to N200m in Control children and the opposite pattern in children with FASD. However, no significant difference was found with the simple effects comparisons. No group differences were found in the response latencies of the rare auditory evoked fields.

Conclusions: The results indicate that there was no detectable effect of alcohol exposure on the amplitude or latency of the MMNm response to simple tones modulated by frequency change in preschool-aged children with FASD. However, while discrimination abilities to simple tones may be intact, early auditory sensory processing revealed by the interaction between N100m and N200m amplitude indicates that auditory sensory processing may be altered in children with FASD.

Keywords: Auditory; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders; Magnetoencephalography; Mismatch Negativity; Preschool Children.