A crucial role for white matter alterations in interference control problems of very preterm children

J.F. de Kieviet, D.J. Heslenfeld, P.J.W. Pouwels, H.N. Lafeber, R.J. Vermeulen, R.M. van Elburg, J. Oosterlaan

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Background:Attention problems are among the most prominent behavioral deficits reported in very preterm children (below 32 wk of gestation) at school age. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the brain abnormalities underlying attention problems in very preterm children by investigating the role of abnormalities in white and gray brain matter during interference control, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-guided probabilistic diffusion tensor tractography.Methods:Twenty-nine very preterm children (mean (SD) age: 8.6 (0.3) y), and 47 term controls (mean (SD) age: 8.7 (0.5) y), performed a fMRI version of the Eriksen Flanker task masuring interference control.Results:Very preterm children showed slower reaction times than term controls when interfering stimuli were presented, indicating poorer interference control. Very preterm children and term controls did not differ in mean activation of the cortical regions involved in interference control. However, impaired fractional anisotropy (FA) was found in very preterm children in specifically those fiber tracts that innervate the cortical regions involved in interference control. Lower FA was related to poorer interference control in very preterm children.Conclusion:White matter alterations have a crucial role in the interference control problems of very preterm children at school age. Copyright © 2014 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-737
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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