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 Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>