Very preterm birth (<33 weeks of gestation) has been associated with alterations in structural and functional brain development in regions that are believed to underlie a variety of cognitive processes. While such alterations have been often studied in the context of cognitive vulnerability, early disruption to programmed developmental processes may also lead to neuroplastic and functional adaptations, which support cognitive performance. In this review, we will focus on executive function and intelligence as the main cognitive outcomes following very preterm birth in adolescence and adulthood in relation to their structural and functional neurobiological correlates. The neuroimaging modalities we review provide quantitative assessments of brain morphology, white matter macro and micro-structure, structural and functional connectivity and haemodynamic responses associated with specific cognitive operations. Identifying the neurobiological underpinning of the long-term sequelae associated with very preterm birth may guide the development and implementation of targeted neurobehaviourally-informed interventions for those at high risk.
- Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging
- Executive function
- Functional neuroimaging
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Preterm birth