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Front Hum Neurosci. 2018 Dec 20;12:512. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00512. eCollection 2018.

Language Network Function in Young Children Born Very Preterm.

Choi EJ1,2, Vandewouw MM1,3, Young JM1,3,4, Taylor MJ1,3,4,5.

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Neurosciences & Mental Health, SickKids Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Language deficits are reported in preterm born children across development. Recent neuroimaging studies have found functional alterations in large-scale brain networks underlying these language deficits, but the early childhood development of the language network has not been investigated. Here, we compared intrinsic language network connectivity in 4-year-old children born VPT and term-born controls, using defined language regions (Broca's area, Wernicke's areas, and their homologues in the right hemisphere). Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was obtained, and the group differences in whole-brain connectivity were examined from each seed as well as correlations with language outcomes. We found significantly decreased functional connectivity in almost all language regions in children born VPT compared to their term controls. Notably, Broca's area homologue in the right hemisphere emerged as a functional hub of decreased connectivity in VPT group, specifically to bilateral inferior frontal and supramarginal gyri; connectivity strength between Broca's area homologue with the right supramarginal and the left inferior frontal gyri was associated with better language outcomes at 4 years of age. Wernicke's area and its homologue also showed decreased inter-hemispheric connections to bilateral supramarginal gyri in the VPT group. Decreased intra- and inter-hemispheric connectivity among primary language regions suggests immature and altered function in the language network in children born VPT.


Broca’s area; Wernicke’s area; children; language network; resting-state functional connectivity; very preterm-born

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