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Neonatology. 2014;106(2):149-55. doi: 10.1159/000362433. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

GABA, resting-state connectivity and the developing brain.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., USA.



Preclinical data demonstrate that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) interneurons initiate connectivity in the developing brain.


The goal of this study was to compare GABA concentration and its relationship to functional connectivity in the brains of term and preterm infants at term-equivalent age.


Infants received both magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans at term-equivalent age. Whole brain functional connectivity MRI data using intrinsic connectivity distribution maps were compared to identify areas with differences in resting-state functional connectivity between the preterm and term control groups. MRS measured concentrations of GABA, glutamate, N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) and choline; NAA/choline was then calculated for comparison between the 2 groups.


Preterm infants had lower right frontal GABA and glutamate concentrations than term controls and showed a significantly different relationship between connectivity and GABA concentration in the right frontal lobe. Preterm infants had a positive correlation between GABA concentration and connectivity, while term controls demonstrated a negative correlation between these two developmentally regulated parameters.


These results suggest that regional GABA concentrations are associated with normal and altered neonatal resting-state connectivity.

© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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[Available on 2015-06-26]
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