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Dev Psychol. 2002 Nov;38(6):895-902.

Processing speed in the 1st year of life: a longitudinal study of preterm and full-term infants.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Processing speed was assessed at 5, 7, and 12 months in full-term and preterm infants (birth-weight < 1,750 g). Speed was gauged directly in a new task by presenting infants with a series of paired faces, one that remained the same across trials and one that changed; trials continued until infants showed a consistent novelty preference. At all ages, preterms required about 20% more trials and 30% more time than full-terms to reach criterion. Among preterms, slower processing was associated with greater medical risk (e.g., respiratory distress syndrome). Developmental trajectories for speed (and attention) were similar for both groups. Thus, the deficits in processing speed previously found for preterms in childhood are already present in the 1st year of life.

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