The long-term effects of prenatal nicotine exposure on response inhibition: an fMRI study of young adults.Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2013 Sep-Oct; 39:9-18.NT
The long-term effects of prenatal nicotine exposure on response inhibition were investigated in young adults using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants were members of the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study, a longitudinal study that collected a unique body of information on participants from infancy to young adulthood, which allowed for the measurement of an unprecedented number of potentially confounding drug exposure variables including: prenatal marijuana and alcohol exposure and current marijuana, nicotine and alcohol use. Twelve young adults with prenatal nicotine exposure and 13 non-exposed controls performed a Go/No-Go task while fMRI blood oxygen level-dependent responses were examined. Despite similar task performance, participants prenatally exposed to nicotine demonstrated significantly greater activity in several regions of the brain that typically subserve response inhibition including the inferior frontal gyrus, the inferior parietal lobe, the thalamus and the basal ganglia. In addition, prenatally exposed participants showed greater activity in relatively large posterior regions of the cerebellum. These results suggest that prenatal nicotine exposure leads to altered neural functioning during response inhibition that continues into adulthood. This alteration is compensated for by recruitment of greater neural resources within regions of the brain that subserve response inhibition and the recruitment of additional brain regions to successfully perform the task. Response inhibition is an important executive functioning skill and impairments can impede functioning in much of everyday life. Thus, awareness of the continued long-term neural physiological effects of prenatal nicotine exposure is critical.