Verbal Learning and Memory in Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Authors

  • Sarah N. Mattson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Behavioral Teratology, Department of Psychology (S.N.M., E.P.R.), San Diego State University; Department of Psychiatry (D.C.D.), University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Psychology Service (D.C.D.), San Diego Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center; San Diego State University/University of California at San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (C.S.); and the Division of Dys-morphology and Teratology (K.L.J.), Department of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, California
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  • Edward P. Riley,

    1. Center for Behavioral Teratology, Department of Psychology (S.N.M., E.P.R.), San Diego State University; Department of Psychiatry (D.C.D.), University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Psychology Service (D.C.D.), San Diego Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center; San Diego State University/University of California at San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (C.S.); and the Division of Dys-morphology and Teratology (K.L.J.), Department of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, California
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  • Dean C. Delis,

    1. Center for Behavioral Teratology, Department of Psychology (S.N.M., E.P.R.), San Diego State University; Department of Psychiatry (D.C.D.), University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Psychology Service (D.C.D.), San Diego Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center; San Diego State University/University of California at San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (C.S.); and the Division of Dys-morphology and Teratology (K.L.J.), Department of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, California
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  • Catherine Stern,

    1. Center for Behavioral Teratology, Department of Psychology (S.N.M., E.P.R.), San Diego State University; Department of Psychiatry (D.C.D.), University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Psychology Service (D.C.D.), San Diego Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center; San Diego State University/University of California at San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (C.S.); and the Division of Dys-morphology and Teratology (K.L.J.), Department of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, California
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  • Kenneth Lyons Jones

    1. Center for Behavioral Teratology, Department of Psychology (S.N.M., E.P.R.), San Diego State University; Department of Psychiatry (D.C.D.), University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Psychology Service (D.C.D.), San Diego Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center; San Diego State University/University of California at San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology (C.S.); and the Division of Dys-morphology and Teratology (K.L.J.), Department of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego Medical Center, San Diego, California
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  • This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grants AA10417 and AA03249 (to E.P.R.).

Center for Behavioral Teratology, 6363 Alvarado Court, Suite 209, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92120

Abstract

Children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) were administered the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version, a word list leaming task that assesses immediate and delayed recall and recognition memory. When compared with matched control children, the chlldren with FAS had difficulty learning and recalling the words after a delay period and tended to make an increased number of intrusion and perseverative errors. In addition, they had difficulty discriminating target words from distracter words and made more false-positive errors on recognition testing. Some of these deficits persisted even when mental age was controlled. The results suggest that children with FAS have profound verbal learning and memory deficits, and that some of these deficits cannot be accounted for even when mental age is considered. Furthermore, the results are consistent with deficits in encoding verbal information and impairment in response inhibition capabilities.

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