Memory ability and hippocampal volume in adolescents with prenatal drug exposure

Tracy Riggins, Kelsey Cacic, Stacy Buckingham-Howes, Laura A. Scaletti, Betty Jo Salmeron, Maureen M. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The objective of the present study was to examine the influence of prenatal drug exposure (PDE) on memory performance and supporting brain structures (i.e., hippocampus) during adolescence. To achieve this goal, declarative memory ability and hippocampal volume were examined in a well-characterized sample of 138 adolescents (76 with a history of PDE and 62 from a non-exposed comparison group recruited from the same community, mean age = 14. years). Analyses were adjusted for: age at time of the assessments, gender, IQ, prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco, and indices of early childhood environment (i.e., caregiver depression, potential for child abuse, and number of caregiver changes through 7. years of age). Results revealed that adolescents with a history of PDE performed worse on the California Verbal Learning Test-Child Version (CVLT-C), and story recall from the Children's Memory Scale (CMS), and had larger hippocampal volumes, even after covariate adjustment. Hippocampal volume was negatively correlated with memory performance on the CVLT-C, with lower memory scores associated with larger volumes. These findings provide support for long-term effects of PDE on memory function and point to neural mechanisms that may underlie these outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent brain
  • Development
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Prenatal drug exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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