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Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2007 Oct;3(10):558-71.

Injury and recovery in the developing brain: evidence from functional MRI studies of prematurely born children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Functional MRI (fMRI) might provide important insights into emerging data that suggest that recovery from injury can occur in the brains of children born prematurely. Strategies employing auditory stimulation demonstrate blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) activation in preterm infants as young as 33 weeks' gestational age, and reliable BOLD signal in response to visual stimulation occurs at term-equivalent age. Strategies based on fMRI are particularly suited to the study of language and memory, and emerging data are likely to provide insights into perplexing reports that have demonstrated improving cognitive scores but persistent volumetric and microstructural changes in frontotemporal language systems in the prematurely born. Even when sex, gestational age and early medical and environmental interventions are taken into account, fMRI data from several investigators suggest the engagement of alternative neural networks for language and memory in the developing preterm brain.

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