Visual perception in preterm children: what are we currently measuring?

Pediatr Neurol. 2011 Jul;45(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2011.02.008.


Over the past two decades, cerebral visual impairment has been recognized as a principal deficit in preterm children, and in particular those with cerebral palsy. We review the current knowledge of visual processing deficits in these children, and provide an overview of the tools for assessing cerebral visual impairment. Commercially available instruments are usually directed at evaluating visuospatial skills rather than detecting object recognition difficulties. Particularly in children aged 3 years or younger and in children with multiple handicaps, cerebral visual impairment is difficult to diagnose. This difficulty may be attributable to limitations specific to the instrument, such as a test that is inappropriate for age, or to child-specific limitations such as motor impairment or speech delay. We therefore include an overview of relevant neuroimaging findings reported in these children, focusing on the most recent imaging modalities. Novel techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging may provide sensitive markers of cerebral visual impairment in situations where clinical diagnosis is difficult, and such approaches may allow for early intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Premature Birth / physiopathology*
  • Vision Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*