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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Oct 22. pii: bhv248. [Epub ahead of print]

Alterations in Anatomical Covariance in the Prematurely Born.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Radiology Magnetic Resonance Research Center, New Haven, CT 06520-8043, USA.
  • 2Department of Pediatrics.
  • 3Department of Diagnostic Radiology.
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, Warren Alpert Brown Medical School, Providence, RI, USA.
  • 5Department of Diagnostic Radiology Department of Biomedical Engineering.
  • 6Department of Diagnostic Radiology Department of Neurosurgery.
  • 7Department of Pediatrics Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Preterm (PT) birth results in long-term alterations in functional and structural connectivity, but the related changes in anatomical covariance are just beginning to be explored. To test the hypothesis that PT birth alters patterns of anatomical covariance, we investigated brain volumes of 25 PTs and 22 terms at young adulthood using magnetic resonance imaging. Using regional volumetrics, seed-based analyses, and whole brain graphs, we show that PT birth is associated with reduced volume in bilateral temporal and inferior frontal lobes, left caudate, left fusiform, and posterior cingulate for prematurely born subjects at young adulthood. Seed-based analyses demonstrate altered patterns of anatomical covariance for PTs compared with terms. PTs exhibit reduced covariance with R Brodmann area (BA) 47, Broca's area, and L BA 21, Wernicke's area, and white matter volume in the left prefrontal lobe, but increased covariance with R BA 47 and left cerebellum. Graph theory analyses demonstrate that measures of network complexity are significantly less robust in PTs compared with term controls. Volumes in regions showing group differences are significantly correlated with phonological awareness, the fundamental basis for reading acquisition, for the PTs. These data suggest both long-lasting and clinically significant alterations in the covariance in the PTs at young adulthood.


anatomical covariance; connectivity; preterm; structural covariance; young adulthood

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