To determine the structural and functional integrity of the brain in a sample of nonretarded individuals diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.
The sample consisted of nineteen individuals who met the diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome.
Intellectual function was assessed using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. Structural integrity of the brain was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging whereas functional integrity was assessed using positron emission tomography and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose.
The mean Full Scale IQ was 80.2 (range: 66–92). Only 1 magnetic resonance imaging was found to be abnormal. This abnormality was found for the subject with the lowest IQ. Decreases in relative regional cerebral metabolic rates were found in 5 brain regions comprising the thalamus and basal ganglia.
These results when coupled with previous findings suggest a continuum of neuropathology in fetal alcohol syndrome. For cases with relatively mild intellectual deficits, the cause of the deficit is at a micro-level rather than a macro-level.