Altered functional neuroanatomy of high-order cognitive processing has been described in very preterm individuals (born before 33 weeks of gestation; VPT) compared to controls in childhood and adolescence. However, VPT birth may be accompanied by different types of adverse neonatal events and associated brain injury, the severity of which may have differential effects on brain development and subsequent neurodevelopmental outcome. We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study to investigate how differing degrees of neonatal brain injury, detected by neonatal ultrasounds, affect the functional neuroanatomy of memory processing in VPT young adults. We used a verbal paired associates learning task, consisting of four encoding, four cued-recall and four baseline condition blocks. To further investigate whether differences in neural activation between the groups were modulated by structural brain changes, structural MRI data were also collected. We studied 12 VPT young adults with a history of periventricular haemorrhage with associated ventricular dilatation, 17 VPT individuals with a history of uncomplicated periventricular haemorrhage, 12 individuals with normal ultrasonographic findings, and 17 controls. Results of a linear trend analysis demonstrated that during completion of the paired associates learning task right frontal and right parietal brain activation decreased as the severity of neonatal brain injury increased. There were no statistically significant between-group differences in on-line task performance and participants' intelligence quotient (IQ) at assessment. This pattern of differential activation across the groups was observed particularly in the right middle frontal gyrus during encoding and in the right posterior cingulate gyrus during recall. Structural MRI data analysis revealed that grey matter volume in the right superior temporal gyrus, right cerebellum, left middle temporal gyrus, right globus pallidus and right medial frontal gyrus decreased with increasing severity of neonatal brain injury. However, the significant between-group functional neuroanatomical differences were not directly attributable to the detected structural regional differences.
Kalpakidou, A. K., Allin, M. P., Walshe, M., Giampietro, V., Nam, K. woo, McGuire, P., … Nosarti, C. (2012). Neonatal brain injury and neuroanatomy of memory processing following very preterm birth in adulthood: An fMRI study. PLoS ONE, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034858