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Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 Oct;38(10):5051-5068. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23714. Epub 2017 Jul 7.

Alterations in white matter microstructure are associated with goal-directed upper-limb movement segmentation in children born extremely preterm.

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Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Neuroscience, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Psychology, , Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiotheraphy, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Altered white matter microstructure is commonly found in children born preterm (PT), especially those born at an extremely low gestational age (GA). These children also commonly show disturbed motor function. This study explores the relation between white matter alterations and upper-limb movement segmentation in 41 children born PT (19 girls), and 41 children born at term (18 girls) at 8 years. The PT group was subdivided into extremely PT (E-PT; GA = 25-27 weeks, N = 10), very PT (V-PT; GA = 28-32 weeks, N = 13), and moderately PT (M-PT; GA = 33-35 weeks, N = 18). Arm/hand preference (preferred/non-preferred) was determined through object interactions and the brain hemispheres were designated accordingly. White matter alterations were assessed using diffusion tensor imaging in nine areas, and movement segmentation of the body-parts head, shoulder, elbow, and wrist were registered during a unimanual goal-directed task. Increased movement segmentation was demonstrated consistently on the preferred side in the E-PT group compared with the term born group. Also compared with the term born peers, the E-PT group demonstrated reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) in the cerebral peduncle (targeting the corticospinal tract) in the hemisphere on the non-preferred side and in the splenium of corpus callosum. In contrast, in the anterior internal capsule on the preferred side, the E-PT group had increased FA. Lower FA in the cerebral peduncle, but higher FA in the anterior internal capsule, was associated with increased movement segmentation across body-parts in a contralateral manner. The results suggest that impaired development of sensorimotor tracts in E-PT children could explain a sub-optimal spatiotemporal organization of upper-limb movements. Hum Brain Mapp 38:5051-5068, 2017.


anisotropy; corticospinal; diffusion tensor imaging; internal capsule; laterality; movement segmentation; sensorimotor

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