Posted by & filed under Clinical Neuropsychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Physical Development: Birth, Motor Skills, and Growth, Prenatal Development.

Description: We know that stimulation provided by postnatal experience and perhaps also through dream state sleep plays an important role in the development of neural connections in the newborn brain. With this in mind what would you predict about the complexity of neural connections in the brains of infants born 10 weeks early and who consequently had a higher degree of stimulation, at least prior to their originally projected birthdate?

Source: Premature Birth May Weaken Brain Connections, Study Reveals. Times Gazette, Ben Kochman

Date: October 20, 2015

Prematuruity and Brain connections

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Research has shown that infants born prematurely at a higher risk for motor problems cognitive difficulties in ADHD as well as anxiety and autism spectrum disorders. In an effort to investigate why this might be the case researchers in a paper presented at the neuroscience 2015 annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience used magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brains of 76 infants born 10 or more weeks early to the brains of 58 full-term infants. Each infant was scanned in the first few days after their birth and the premature infants were also scanned within a couple of days of their originally projected due date. The largest finding was that the brain networks involved in indication, attention and emotion are less complex in the brains of the infant’s been born premature even at their projected due dates. Interesting to speculate as to why this might be and to think about what sorts of studies one might design to look into this question a little more deeply.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Describe the differences noted in the brains of infants born 10 or more weeks prematurely when compared with the brains of infants born close to their projected birthdates.
  2. What sorts of factors might contribute to these differences?
  3. What sorts of interventions might we suggest you would like to reduce or eliminate these differences?

References (Read Further):

Chen, L., Huang, X., He, N., Hu, X., Chen, Y., Li, Y., … & Gong, Q. (2015). Microstructural abnormalities of the brain white matter in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci, 1, 8872147.


Qiu, A., Mori, S., & Miller, M. I. (2015). Diffusion Tensor Imaging for Understanding Brain Development in Early Life. Annual review of psychology, 66, 853-876.


Travis, K. E., Leitner, Y., Feldman, H. M., & Ben‐Shachar, M. (2015). Cerebellar white matter pathways are associated with reading skills in children and adolescents. Human brain mapping, 36(4), 1536-1553.