Background VLBW survivors are at increased risk of neurological abnormalities that may be linked to changes in brain morphology.
Objective To relate neurological impairments based on subnormal clinical test results with changes in regional cortical thickness.
Design/Methods 49 VLBW (birth weight<1500 grams) and 58 control adolescents were examined at the age of 14 with a battery of neuropsychological and motor tests. An automated MRI technique at 1.5 Tesla for morphometric analyses of cortical thickness. Areas of differences in cortical thickness between VLBW and controls were identified and mean cortical thickness in each area was recorded. In the VLBW group mean cortical thickness for each area was compared with clinical test results.
Results The cortical surface model demonstrated 26 areas of regional cortical thinning (yellow) and thickening (blue) in the VLBW group. In the VLBW group, motor impairments were related with thinning of left parahippocampal gyrus and right motor cortex (white) (figure 1). Visuo-motor impairments were related to thinning of both parahippocampal gyri. Children with subnormal IQ and/or impairments in executive functions had thinning of left and right parahippocampal gyri, in addition thinning of left occipital cortex (figure 2) was seen in those with subnormal IQ.
Conclusions Regional cortical thinning is associated with cognitive and motor impairments in VLBW adolescents.