Motor fMRI and cortical grey matter volume in adults born very preterm


The primary aim of this study was to investigate the functional neuroanatomy of motor planning, initiation and execution in a cohort of young adults (mean age 20 years) who were born very preterm (VPT; textless33 weeks of gestation), as these individuals are at increased risk of experiencing neuromotor difficulties compared to controls. A cued motor task was presented to 20 right-handed VPT individuals and 20 controls within a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm. Whole-brain grey matter volume was also quantified and associations with functional data were examined. Despite comparable task performance, fMRI results showed that the VPT group displayed greater brain activation compared to controls in a region comprising the right cerebellum and the lingual, parahippocampal and middle temporal gyri. The VPT group also displayed decreased grey matter volume in the right superior frontal/premotor cortex and left middle temporal gyri. Grey matter volume in the premotor and middle temporal clusters was significantly negatively correlated with BOLD activation in the cerebellum. Overall, these data suggest that preterm birth is associated with functional neuronal differences that persist into adulthood, which are likely to reflect neural reorganisation following early brain injury.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience