Research on cognitive impairment in preterm children has progressed

Recently, Psychological Medicine, a well-known international journal of psychiatry and psychology, published online the research paper of Professor Zhang Yi’s team of CBI Brain Imaging Research Center, School of Life Science and Technology, Xidian University, “Preterm birth associated alterations in brain structure, cognitive functioning and behavior in.” children from the ABCD dataset”。 Using multicenter big data of structural magnetic resonance imaging and comprehensive mental and cognitive function assessment in children aged 9-10 years, this study quantitatively delineates the potential impact of preterm birth on the long-term neurodevelopmental trajectory of children aged 9-10 years, revealing the complex interaction between morphometric and structural connectivity changes in important brain regions caused by preterm birth and their long-term psychopathological risk and cognitive deficits.

Screenshot of the publication.

Preterm birth is a common global health problem, with a prevalence of about 11%, and is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age worldwide. Although technological and medical advances in recent years have improved survival rates for preterm births, survivors are still at risk of long-term neurological and cognitive impairment.

Professor Yi Zhang’s team from the Brain Imaging Research Center of Xidian University and the Gene-Jack Wang and Nora D. Volkow team of the Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction of the National Institutes of Health carried out relevant research work to explore the developmental disorders of preterm children in the adolescent brain cognitive development cohort, and used multicenter large-scale neuroimaging data to evaluate preterm birth-related brain structure and behavioral changes in 1706 premature infants. The potential relationship between these structural changes in the brain and behavioral measures was explored.

Schematic diagram of the relevant content of the paper. (All photos in the article are provided by Xidian University)

Studies have found that neurodevelopmental changes and behavioral abnormalities in preterm infants are associated with their gestational age and birth weight. Preterm infants involve a wide range of corticotic/subcortical structural abnormalities in the frontal, temporal, parietal, and thalamic, cerebellum, and fornix regions. These areas are part of an important network of memory and cognitive function, involving the “social brain” network, which underlies social-emotional, mental health, and cognitive function. In addition, the study also found that changes in cortical thickness in PHG regions of preterm infants may reflect their adaptive mechanisms to overcome prematurity-related nerve damage, which may be related to the mechanisms of early plasticity enhancement and overall delayed maturation in brain development in preterm infants. (Source: Yan Tao, China Science News)

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