Visual search, perception, and visual-motor skill in "healthy" children born at 27-32 weeks' gestation

J Exp Child Psychol. 1997 Jan;64(1):27-41. doi: 10.1006/jecp.1996.2326.


Visual-perceptual, attentional, and visual-motor skills were examined in a group of 16 school-age children, born at 27-32 gestational weeks, who had performed normally on pediatric screening tests. Compared with 16 matched full-term controls, the preterms performed poorly on only two measures: they took longer to point to the missing arc of an annulus displayed on a computer screen and failed to find targets more often in a complex visual search task. They showed no deficits on tests of visual form extraction and closure. These data suggest that in the absence of any disability that is clinically detectable, prematurity results in a cluster of small but significant visual-motor impairments that persist into middle childhood. These relate to the maintenance of attention and visual-motor coordination, though visual form perception is not measurably affected. The results are discussed in the context of current neurobiological models of visual system organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / psychology*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perceptual Closure / physiology
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Volition / physiology