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 Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>