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INTRODUCTION: It is well established that individuals exposed to alcohol in utero have reduced cortical grey matter volumes. However, the candidate determinants of these reductions, cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA), have not been investigated exclusively in alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), the most prevalent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder subgroup that lacks the characteristic facial dysmorphology. METHODS: T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained from 88 participants (8-16 years), 36 diagnosed with ARND and 52 typically developing controls. Scans were submitted to the CIVET pipeline (version 1.1.10). Deformable models were used to construct the inner white matter surfaces and pial surfaces from which CT and SA measures were derived. Group differences in cortical volume, CT, and SA were computed using a general linear model covaried for age, sex, and handedness. RESULTS: Global cortical volume reductions in ARND did not reflect CT, which did not differ between groups. Instead, volume decreases were consistent with global SA reductions in bilateral frontal and temporal as well as right occipital regions. Local reductions in SA were observed in the right superior temporal gyrus and the right occipital-temporal region. CONCLUSION: Results suggest that in ARND, prenatal alcohol exposure perturbs global SA to a greater degree than CT, particularly in the right temporal lobe.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Behav

Publication Date





41 - 50


ARND, MRI, cortical thickness, surface area, Adolescent, Cerebral Cortex, Child, Female, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Temporal Lobe