Indexed on: 11 Mar '16Published on: 11 Mar '16Published in: The Journal of Pediatrics
To compare cortical hemodynamic responses to known and unknown facial stimuli between infants born extremely preterm and term-born infants, and to correlate the responses of the extremely preterm-born infants to regional cortical volumes at term-equivalent age.We compared 27 infants born extremely preterm (<28 gestational weeks) with 26 term-born infants. Corrected age and chronological age at testing were between 6 and 10 months, respectively. Both groups were exposed to a gray background, their mother's face, and an unknown face. Cerebral regional concentrations of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin were measured with near-infrared spectroscopy. In the preterm group, we also performed structural brain magnetic resonance imaging and correlated regional cortical volumes to hemodynamic responses.The preterm-born infants demonstrated different cortical face recognition processes than the term-born infants. They had a significantly smaller hemodynamic response in the right frontotemporal areas while watching their mother's face (0.13 μmol/L vs 0.63 μmol/L; P < .001). We also found a negative correlation between the magnitude of the oxygenated hemoglobin increase in the right frontotemporal cortex and regional gray matter volume in the left fusiform gyrus and amygdala (voxels, 25; r = 0.86; P < .005).At 6-10 months corrected age, the preterm-born infants demonstrated a different pattern in the maturation of their cortical face recognition process compared with term-born infants.