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Cereb Cortex. 2012 May;22(5):1016-24. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr176. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

The effect of preterm birth on thalamic and cortical development.

Author information

1
Centre for Developing Brain, Imperial College London and MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK.

Abstract

Preterm birth is a leading cause of cognitive impairment in childhood and is associated with cerebral gray and white matter abnormalities. Using multimodal image analysis, we tested the hypothesis that altered thalamic development is an important component of preterm brain injury and is associated with other macro- and microstructural alterations. T(1)- and T(2)-weighted magnetic resonance images and 15-direction diffusion tensor images were acquired from 71 preterm infants at term-equivalent age. Deformation-based morphometry, Tract-Based Spatial Statistics, and tissue segmentation were combined for a nonsubjective whole-brain survey of the effect of prematurity on regional tissue volume and microstructure. Increasing prematurity was related to volume reduction in the thalamus, hippocampus, orbitofrontal lobe, posterior cingulate cortex, and centrum semiovale. After controlling for prematurity, reduced thalamic volume predicted: lower cortical volume; decreased volume in frontal and temporal lobes, including hippocampus, and to a lesser extent, parietal and occipital lobes; and reduced fractional anisotropy in the corticospinal tracts and corpus callosum. In the thalamus, reduced volume was associated with increased diffusivity. This demonstrates a significant effect of prematurity on thalamic development that is related to abnormalities in allied brain structures. This suggests that preterm delivery disrupts specific aspects of cerebral development, such as the thalamocortical system.

PMID:
21772018
PMCID:
PMC3328341
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bhr176
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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