Prenatal PCB exposure, the corpus callosum, and response inhibition

Paul Stewart, Susan Fitzgerald, Jacqueline Reihman, Brooks Gump, Edward Lonky, Thomas Darvill, Jim Pagano, Peter Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


The present study reports the association between prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the corpus callosum, and response inhibition in children who are 4.5 years old. Children (n = 189) enrolled in the Oswego study were tested using a continuous performance test. We measured (square millimeters) the splenium of the corpus callosum, a pathway implicated in the regulation of response inhibition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Results indicated a dose-dependent association between cord blood PCBs and errors of commission. Splenium size but not other brain areas predicted errors of commission (r2 = 0.20), with smaller size associated with more errors of commission. There was an interaction between splenium size and PCB exposure. The smaller the splenium, the larger the association between PCBs and errors of commission. If the association between PCBs and response inhibition is indeed causal, then children with suboptimal development of the splenium are particularly vulnerable to these effects. These data await replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1670-1677
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Corpus callosum
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibition
  • PCBs
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Splenium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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