Brain functional network connectivity development in very preterm infants: The first six months

Early Hum Dev. 2016 Jul:98:29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 25.


Nearly 10% of premature infants are born very preterm at 32weeks gestational age or less in the United States. Up to 35% of these very preterm survivors are at risk for cognitive and behavioral deficits. Yet accurate diagnosis of such deficits cannot be made until early childhood. Resting-state fMRI provides noninvasive assessment of the brain's functional networks and is a promising tool for early prognostication. In our present study, we enrolled a cohort of very preterm infants soon after birth and performed resting state fMRI at 32, 39 and additionally at 52weeks postmenstrual age. Using group probabilistic independent component analysis, we identified the following resting-state networks: visual, auditory, motor, somatosensory, cerebellum, brainstem, subcortical gray matter, default mode, executive control, and frontoparietal network. We observed increasing functional connectivity strength from 32 to 52weeks postmenstrual age for the auditory, somatosensory, visual, subcortical gray matter, executive control, and frontoparietal networks. Future studies with neurodevelopmental follow-up are needed to potentially identify prognostic biomarkers of long-term cognitive and behavioral deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child Development
  • Connectome*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male