White matter abnormalities and executive function in children with very low birth weight

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The aim of this study was to investigate any structural–functional relationship between changes in white matter microstructure seen on diffusion tensor imaging and results of an executive function test in adolescents with very low birth weight (VLBW). Thirty-four VLBW adolescents were examined at 15 years of age. Executive function was assessed by the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Diffusion tensor imaging scans were performed at 1.5 T for calculation of individual fractional anisotropy maps. Through a voxel-wise regression analysis, correlations were found between the results on Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and fractional anisotropy values in the left cingulum and both inferior fronto-occipital fascicles. We speculate that impairments in executive function in VLBW children may be influenced by disturbed connectivity between posterior brain regions and the prefrontal cortex.

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