Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Preterm birth affects ability to solve complex cognitive tasks

27.05.2013
- Too early to learn
- PLOS ONE: Preterm birth affects ability to solve complex cognitive tasks
- Reseachers from Bochum and Warwick suggest consequences for planning school lessons

Being born preterm goes hand in hand with an increased risk for neuro-cognitive deficits. Psychologists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the University of Warwick, UK have investigated the relation between the duration of pregnancy and cognitive abilities under varying work load conditions.

“Cognitive performance deficits of children dramatically increase as cognitive workload of tasks increases and pregnancy duration decreases,” says Dr Julia Jäkel from the Ruhr-Universität. In the journal “PLOS ONE”, the researchers report a new cognitive workload model describing the association between task complexity and incremental performance deficits of preterm children.

Large numbers of preterm born babies will place new demands on education system

About 15 million, i.e., more than ten per cent of all babies worldwide are born preterm every year; that is before the 37th week of pregnancy – and the numbers are rising due to improvements in neonatal medicine and demographic changes. Recent studies suggest that delivery at any gestation other than full term (39 to 41 weeks gestational age) may impair brain development, rendering survivors at risk for adverse neuro-cognitive outcomes. Considering that 50 per cent of children are born before the 39th week of pregnancy, even small increases in cognitive impairments may have large effects on a population level. “As the total number of children born preterm increases there will be parallel increases in special education needs placing new demands on the education system,” Julia Jäkel and her colleagues say. To date, uncertainties remain regarding the nature and underlying causes of learning difficulties in preterm children. The new cognitive workload model now reconciles previous inconsistent findings on the relationship of gestational age and cognitive performance.

Cognitive deficits of children born preterm depend on the workload of the task

The research team tested 1326 children, born between weeks 23 and 41 of pregnancy, at an age of eight years. Data were collected as part of the prospective Bavarian Longitudinal Study. The children took part in a range of cognitive tests with varying workload. High workload tasks require the simultaneous integration of different sources of information, thereby placing high demands on the so called working memory. The results: The higher the workload and the shorter the pregnancy duration, the larger were the cognitive performance deficits. Deficits were disproportionally higher for children born before the 34th week of pregnancy compared with children born after week 33. Being born preterm specifically affected the ability to solve high workload tasks, whereas lower workload tasks were largely unaffected.

Results are relevant for cognitive follow-ups and planning of school lessons

According to the researchers, these results should be taken into account for routine cognitive follow-ups of preterm children as well as for planning school lessons. “New studies suggest that computerized training can improve working memory capacity,” Prof Dieter Wolke from Warwick says. “In addition, educational interventions could be developed in which information is not presented simultaneously to preterm children but more slowly and sequentially to promote academic attainment.”

Funding

This study was supported by grants PKE24, JUG14, 01EP9504 and 01ER0801 from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) and by grant JA 1913 from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Bibliographic record

J. Jäkel, N. Baumann, D. Wolke (2013): Effects of gestational age at birth on cognitive performance: a function of cognitive workload demands, PLOS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065219

Further Information

Dr. Julia Jäkel, Department of Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Germany, Tel. +49/234/32-22472, E-mail: julia.jaekel@rub.de

Click for more

Original full text article
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0065219

Editorial journalist: Dr. Julia Weiler

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:
http://www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>