Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory


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Patterns of neuropsychological performance on A-not-B, inhibition, motor, cognitive, language, and behavior tasks were examined in 34 toddlers--17 cocaine-exposed (CE) and 17 nonexposed (NE) controls. CE toddlers exhibited greater perseveration, less inhibition, poorer emotional regulation, and less task orientation relative to NE toddlers. Overall cognitive and language skills and motor impairment status were comparable among CE and NE toddlers. Differences in perseveration, emotional regulation, and task orientation between CE and NE toddlers remained significant after statistically controlling for overall cognitive skill. Prenatal cocaine exposure may impart selective vulnerability for deficits in executive function, inhibition, and emotional regulation in toddlers, perhaps related to the concurrent rapid frontal lobe maturation and the neurobiology of cocaine. Furthermore, these findings suggest that performance can be broken down into meaningful neuropsychological components in very young children.

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