Event-related potentials in cocaine-exposed children during a Stroop task

Linda C. Mayes, Dennis L. Molfese, Alexandra P.F. Key, Nicole C. Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Objective: Prenatal cocaine-exposure may interfere with the ontogeny of prefrontal cortical executive functions due to cocaine's effect on the developing monoaminergic system. This study presents findings regarding cortical functioning in 29 prenatally cocaine-exposed (CE) and non-drug-exposed (NDE) 7- to 9-year-old children participating in event related potential (ERP) studies. Methods: ERPs were recorded using 128-electrode high-density arrays while children responded to a standard Stroop paradigm. Results: In the Stroop paradigm, CE children generated prolonged responses to the words while the NDE children produced briefer responses. Effects were noted in the region of the initial positive peak (P1), the second negative peak (N2) and the later positive peak (P3). Conclusions: Early cocaine exposure may inhibit the specialization and streamlining of brain region involvement during cognitive processing such that task processing is slower to begin, requires more diverse cortical involvement, and requires more time to complete. ERP methodology has considerable potential for studying frontal maturation and may provide additional information to clarify generally the specific effects of prenatal CE on cortical functioning and the developmental course of cognitive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-813
Number of pages17
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Cortical maturation
  • Event-related potential
  • Prenatal cocaine exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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