Localized reductions in resting-state functional connectivity in children with prenatal alcohol exposure

Jia Fan, Paul A. Taylor, Sandra W. Jacobson, Christopher D. Molteno, Suril Gohel, Bharat B. Biswal, Joseph L. Jacobson, Ernesta M. Meintjes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are characterized by impairment in cognitive function that may or may not be accompanied by craniofacial anomalies, microcephaly, and/or growth retardation. Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI), which examines the low-frequency component of the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in the absence of an explicit task, provides an efficient and powerful mechanism for studying functional brain networks even in low-functioning and young subjects. Studies using independent component analysis (ICA) have identified a set of resting-state networks (RSNs) that have been linked to distinct domains of cognitive and perceptual function, which are believed to reflect the intrinsic functional architecture of the brain. This study is the first to examine resting-state functional connectivity within these RSNs in FASD. Rs-fMRI scans were performed on 38 children with FASD (19 with either full fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or partial FAS (PFAS), 19 nonsyndromal heavily exposed (HE)), and 19 controls, mean age 11.3 ± 0.9 years, from the Cape Town Longitudinal Cohort. Nine resting-state networks were generated by ICA. Voxelwise group comparison between a combined FAS/PFAS group and controls revealed localized dose-dependent functional connectivity reductions in five regions in separate networks: anterior default mode, salience, ventral and dorsal attention, and R executive control. The former three also showed lower connectivity in the HE group. Gray matter connectivity deficits in four of the five networks appear to be related to deficits in white matter tracts that provide intra-RSN connections. Hum Brain Mapp 38:5217–5233, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5217-5233
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


  • fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation
  • regional homogeneity
  • resting-state functional MRI
  • resting-state functional connectivity


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