Brain structure and function in the fourth decade of life after extremely low birth weight: An MRI and EEG study
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OBJECTIVE: To examine potential long-term effects of extremely low birth weight (ELBW; ≤ 1000 g) on adult brain structure, brain function, and cognitive-behavioral performance. METHODS: A subset of survivors from the prospectively-followed McMaster ELBW Cohort (n = 23, MBW = 816 g) and their peers born at normal birth weight (NBW; ≥ 2500 g; n = 14, MBW = 3361 g) provided T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans, resting electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings, and behavioral responses to a face-processing task in their early thirties. RESULTS: Visual discrimination accuracy for human faces, resting EEG alpha power, and long-distance alpha coherence were lower in ELBW survivors than NBW adults, and volumes of white matter hypointensities (WMH) were higher. Across groups, face-processing performance was correlated positively with posterior EEG spectral power and long-distance alpha and theta coherence, and negatively with WMH. The associations between face-processing scores and parietal alpha power and theta coherence were reduced after adjustment for WMH. CONCLUSIONS: Electrocortical activity, brain functional connectivity, and higher-order processing ability may be negatively affected by WMH burden, which is greater in adults born extremely preterm. SIGNIFICANCE: Decrements in electrocortical activity and behavioral performance in adult ELBW survivors may be partly explained by increased WMH volumes in this vulnerable population.
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