Altered executive function in the lead-exposed brain: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Jeehye Seo, Byung Kook Lee, Seong Uk Jin, Kyung Eun Jang, Jang Woo Park, Yang Tae Kim, Sin Jae Park, Kyoung Sook Jeong, Jungsun Park, Ahro Kim, Yangho Kim, Yongmin Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: It is well known that lead exposure induces neurotoxic effects, which can result in dysfunction in a variety of cognitive capacities including executive function. However, few studies have used fMRI to examine the direct neural correlates of executive function in participants with past lead exposure. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate possible alterations in the neural correlates of executive function in the previously lead-exposed brain. Methods: Forty-three lead-exposed and 41 healthy participants were enrolled. During the fMRI scans, participants performed two modified versions of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) differing in cognitive demand, and a task that established a high-level baseline condition (HLB). Results: The neural activation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was greater in healthy controls than in participants with lead exposure when contrasting the difficult version of the WCST with the HLB. Moreover, cortical activation was found to be inversely associated with blood lead concentration after controlling for covariates. Discussion: These data suggest that lead exposure can induce functional abnormalities in distributed cortical networks related to executive function, and that lead-induced neurotoxicity may be persistent rather than transient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Executive function
  • FMRI
  • Lead exposure
  • Wisconsin Card Sorting Task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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