Journal Article

Preterm infant hippocampal volumes correlate with later working memory deficits

Miriam H. Beauchamp, Deanne K. Thompson, Kelly Howard, Lex W. Doyle, Gary F. Egan, Terrie E. Inder and Peter J. Anderson

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 131, issue 11, pages 2986-2994
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awn227
Preterm infant hippocampal volumes correlate with later working memory deficits

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Children born preterm exhibit working memory deficits. These deficits may be associated with structural brain changes observed in the neonatal period. In this study, the relationship between neonatal regional brain volumes and working memory deficits at age 2 years were investigated, with a particular interest in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex and the hippocampus. While the eligible sample consisted of 227 very preterm children who were born at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne prior to 30 weeks gestation or weighing <1250 g, 156 children had complete data sets. Neonatal magnetic resonance images of the brain were obtained at term equivalent age and subsequently parcellated into eight sub-regions, while the hippocampus was manually segmented. The relationship between brain volumes for these regions and performance on a working memory task (delayed alternation) at 2 years of age was examined. Very preterm children who perseverated on the working memory task had significantly smaller hippocampal volumes than very preterm children who exhibited intact working memory, even after adjusting for relevant perinatal, sociodemographic and developmental factors. Preterm children appear to have altered hippocampal volumes by discharge from hospital which may have a lasting impact on working memory function.

Keywords: prematurity; extremely low birth weight; working memory; hippocampus; magnetic resonance imaging

Journal Article.  6454 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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