Disturbances in the early stages of brain growth, such as preterm birth – when many of the brain's structures have not yet fully developed – appears to affect the brain's neuro-circuitry, which may explain premature babies' higher risk of neurodevelopmental disorders including ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.
Researchers led by Natasha Lepore, PhD, of The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, have located significant alterations to specific surface regions of the brain. Described in a study published online this week by the journal Brain Structure and Function, their identification of neuroanatomical changes related to prematurity helps explain what brain structure and circuitry are affected, and may lead to designing effective prevention strategies and early interventional treatments for cognitive disabilities.
Using three-dimensional brain structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Lepore and colleagues analyzed the structure and neural circuitry of two specific areas of the brain in 17 preterm and 19 term-born babies: the thalamus – the brain's relay station, critical to sending and receiving sensory information – and the putamen, part of an intricate circuit connecting to the brain's frontal lobe and involved in a number of different processes, most notably regulation of movement and learning.
While many studies have spotted alterations in various brain structures related to prematurity, this is the first study to link the structural abnormalities to specific neuro-circuitry, the communication pathways of the brain. To investigate these changes, the CHLA researchers performed a novel, combined analysis of the external shape and dimension of the surfaces of the thalamus and putamen, and compared the relative position of these structures to one another.
"We found that regional abnormalities of the thalamus are associated with alterations of the putamen, possibly due to disturbed development of shared frontal-subcortical connectivity," said first author Yi Lao, MS, of the Department of Radiology at CHLA. More specifically, she added, the significantly correlated regions in these two structures point to frontal and sub-cortical pathways that are essential to important functions such as attention, decision-making, planning, abstract reasoning and memory.
Lepore adds that, for the first time, they have demonstrated the feasibility of using measurements of these abnormalities in the brain of preterm newborns as potential indicators of risk for future cognitive and behavioral problems.
"The ability to identify structural signs of neurodevelopmental disease shortly after birth in premature infants could allow for early interventions, increasing the child's social and learning behaviors as they age," said Lepore.
Additional contributors include Yalin Wang, PhD, and Jie Shi, MS, Arizona State University; Rafael Ceschin, MS, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Ashok Panigrahy, MD, Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; and Marvin D. Nelson, MD, Children's Hospital Los Angeles. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health through NIH grant 5K23-NS063371 and grants R21EB012177 and R21AG043760.
About Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children's hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Children's Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. Children's Hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
For more information, visit CHLA.org and follow us on ResearCHLAblog.org.
Debra Kain, email@example.com
323-361-7628 or 323-361-1812
Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
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...
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...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy