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Neuropediatrics. 2000 Feb;31(1):24-32.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the normal and abnormal visual system in early life.

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Danish Research Centre of Magnetic Resonance, Hvidovre Hospital.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in young children may provide information about the development of the visual cortex, and may have predictive value for later visual performance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of fMRI for examining cerebral processing of vision in very young infants and in infants with brain damage. We examined 15 preterm infants, 12 children suspected of having a cerebral visual impairment and 10 children with a normal visual system, all of whom were either spontaneously asleep or sedated with chloral hydrate. Cortical response to stroboscopic light stimulation could be demonstrated in all technically acceptable data sets from children with a post-menstrual age (PMA) of > 41 weeks, but not in younger infants. Children < 60 weeks PMA showed either a blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal increase or decrease, while all older children showed a signal decrease. The activated cortical volumes showed a linear relation to age for healthy children younger than 90 weeks PMA, but were small in children with visual impairment. In two children with unilateral damage to the optic radiations, activation was strongly asymmetrical with greatest activation on the healthy side. In future prospective studies, results from the period from birth to six months of age should be interpreted with caution, as inter-individual variation of cortical development may be confused with functional deficit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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