Nav: Home

Mapping brain in preemies may predict later disability

January 18, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS - Scanning a premature infant's brain shortly after birth to map the location and volume of lesions, small areas of injury in the brain's white matter, may help doctors better predict whether the baby will have disabilities later, according to a new study published in the January 18, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 babies is born prematurely in the United States.

Lack of oxygen to the brain is the most common form of brain injury in premature infants, resulting in damage to the white matter. White matter contains nerve fibers that maintain contact between various parts of the brain. Damage to white matter can interfere with communication in the brain and the signals it sends to other parts of the body.

"In general, babies who are born before 31 weeks gestation have a higher risk of thinking, language and movement problems throughout their lives, so being able to better predict which infants will face certain developmental problems is important so they get the best early interventions possible. Just as important is to be able to reassure parents of infants who may not be at risk," said study author Steven P. Miller, MDCM, of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.

For the study, researchers looked at a group of premature infants who were admitted to the Neonatal ICU at British Columbia's Women's Hospital over seven years. They found 58 babies with white matter injury who had an MRI brain scan at an average of 32 weeks after gestation. These babies were then evaluated for motor, thinking and language skills when they were 18 months old.

Researchers found that a greater volume of small areas of injury, no matter where they were located in the brain, could predict movement problems at 18 months. They also found that a greater volume of these small areas of injury in the frontal lobe could predict thinking problems. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that regulates problem solving, memory, language skills and voluntary movement skills.

The findings from this study highlight the importance of injury location when considering developmental outcomes. For example, premature infants with larger frontal lobe injuries had a 79 fold greater odds of developing thinking problems than infants without such injuries, as well as a 64 fold greater odds of problems with movement development.

Miller said that future studies should evaluate premature infants not just at 18 months, but at various points throughout childhood to determine the long-term consequences of early injuries in the brain.
-end-
The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The Research Training Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children and SickKids Foundation, the Ontario Brain Institute and the NeuroDevNet National Centres of Excellence.

To learn more about the brain, visit http://www.aan.com/patients.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 30,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.

American Academy of Neurology

Related Language Articles:

Why the language-ready brain is so complex
In a review article published in Science, Peter Hagoort, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, argues for a new model of language, involving the interaction of multiple brain networks.
Do as i say: Translating language into movement
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computer model that can translate text describing physical movements directly into simple computer-generated animations, a first step toward someday generating movies directly from scripts.
Learning language
When it comes to learning a language, the left side of the brain has traditionally been considered the hub of language processing.
Learning a second alphabet for a first language
A part of the brain that maps letters to sounds can acquire a second, visually distinct alphabet for the same language, according to a study of English speakers published in eNeuro.
Sign language reveals the hidden logical structure, and limitations, of spoken language
Sign languages can help reveal hidden aspects of the logical structure of spoken language, but they also highlight its limitations because speech lacks the rich iconic resources that sign language uses on top of its sophisticated grammar.
Lying in a foreign language is easier
It is not easy to tell when someone is lying.
American sign language and English language learners: New linguistic research supports the need for policy changes
A new study of the educational needs of students who are native users of American Sign Language (ASL) shows glaring disparities in their treatment by the U.S Department of Education.
The language of facial expressions
University of Miami Psychology Professor Daniel Messinger collaborated with researchers at Western University in Canada to show that our brains are pre-wired to perceive wrinkles around the eyes as conveying more intense and sincere emotions.
The universal language of hormones
Bioinformatics specialists from the University of W├╝rzburg have studied a specific class of hormones which is relevant for plants, bacteria and indirectly for humans, too.
Stretching language to its limit
A disregard for human traditions, the brutality of predation, sacrifice, and sexual desire are ingrained in languages across cultures.
More Language News and Language Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.