Typical and Opioid-Exposed Infants Processing of Spatial Information in Social and Non-Social Stimuli

  • Bhatt, Ramesh (PI)
  • Hock, Alyson (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


In 2013, 955 neonates with prenatal opioid exposure were diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in Kentucky (Kentucky Department for Public Health). Infants diagnosed with NAS are at risk for several adverse neurobehavioral effects and for attention and behavioral problems at school age. Research on both humans and animals converges to suggest that prenatal opioid exposure interferes with the development of proper cognitive functions, specifically, memory for spatial information and attention. However, very little research has examined the impact of prenatal opioid exposure on the development of human infants’ early cognitive functioning. The current proposal aims to address this gap. The proposed studies will investigate whether prenatal opioid exposure alters human neonates’ spatial information processing. Infants’ sensitivity to spatial information will be tested on a variety of stimuli including face, face-like, and non-face-like images. The proposed dissertation will test the hypothesis that opioid-exposed neonates will fail to discriminate between spatial changes in social and non-social stimuli. In contrast, non-opioid-exposed neonates will discriminate differences in spatial information in each kind of stimulus, replicating previous findings with objects and extending this work to faces and face-like stimuli. These between-group differences would indicate that prenatal opioid exposure disrupts the development of early spatial information processing and will suggest a mechanism for the general compromise of intellectual development resulting from prenatal opioid exposure.
Effective start/end date11/21/1611/20/17


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