Prenatal tobacco exposure predicts differential brain function during working memory in early adolescence: A preliminary investigation

David S. Bennett, Feroze B. Mohamed, Dennis P. Carmody, Muhammed Malik, Scott H. Faro, Michael Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Children prenatally exposed to tobacco exhibit higher rates of learning and emotional-behavioral problems related to worse working memory performance. Brain function, however, among tobacco exposed children while performing a working memory task has not previously been examined. This study compared the brain function of tobacco-exposed (n = 7) and unexposed (n = 11) 12-year-olds during a number N-back working memory task using an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design. Prenatal alcohol exposure, neonatal medical problems, environmental risk, and sex were statistically controlled. Tobacco-exposed children showed greater activation in inferior parietal regions, whereas unexposed children showed greater activation in inferior frontal regions. These differences were observed in the context of correct responses, suggesting that exposed and unexposed children use different brain regions and approaches to succeed in working memory tasks. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Brain imaging
  • Prenatal tobacco exposure
  • Working memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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