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Large scale brain network dynamics in very preterm children and relationship with socio-emotional outcomes

By Vanessa Siffredi, Maria Chiara Liverani, Lorena G. A. Freitas, Daniel Tadros, Younes Farouj, Cristina Borradori Tolsa, Dimitri Van De Ville, Petra Susan Huppi, Russia Ha-Vinh Leuchter

Posted 21 Mar 2022
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.18.22272505

Children born very preterm (VPT; < 32 completed weeks of gestation) are at high risk of neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral difficulties associated with atypical brain maturation. The analysis of large-scale brain network dynamics during rest allows to investigate brain functional connectivity and their association with behavioural outcomes. Of interest, prematurity has been associated with atypical socio-emotional development with significant implications for the forming of peer relationships, adaptive functioning, academic achievement and mental health. In this study, we extracted dynamic functional connectivity by using the innovation-driven co-activation patterns (iCAPs) framework in preterm and full-term children aged 6 to 9 to explore changes in spatial organisation, laterality and temporal dynamics of spontaneous large-scale brain activity. Multivariate pattern analysis was used to explore potential biomarkers for socio-emotional difficulties in preterm children. Results show a spatial organisation of 13 networks retrieved comparable to full-term controls. Dynamic features and lateralisation of network brain activity were also comparable across groups for all large-scale brain networks. Despite apparent similarities in terms of dynamical functional connectivity parameters, multivariate pattern analysis unveiled group differences in their associations with socio-emotional abilities. While a pattern of decreased engagement in certain brain networks were associated with better socio-emotional abilities in full-term controls; in the VPT group, better socio-emotional abilities were associated with coordination of activity across different networks, i.e., coupling duration between different pairs of networks. It is possible that group differences reflect reduced degree of maturation of functional architecture in the VPT group for socio-emotional abilities.

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