Converging function, structure, and behavioural features of emotion regulation in very preterm children
Human Brain Mapping
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© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Children born very preterm (VPT; <32 weeks' gestational age) are at high risk for emotional regulation and social communication impairments. However, the underlying neurobiological correlates of these difficulties remain poorly understood. Using a multimodal approach, including both magnetoencephalographic and structural magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the functional, structural, and behavioural characteristics of socio-emotional processing in 19 school-age children born VPT and 21 age-matched term-born (TB) children (7–13 years). Structural MRI analyses were conducted on a subset of these groups (16 VPT and 21 age-matched TB). Results showed that the inhibition of aversive socio-emotional stimuli was associated with a sustained reduction of right frontoparietal functional brain activity in children born VPT children. Moreover, whole brain structural analyses showed that reductions of cortical thickness or volume in these regions were associated with poor socio-emotional performance in children born VPT. Hence, our results suggest that functional and structural alterations encompassing the frontoparietal areas might be a biological marker of less efficient emotion regulation processes/performance in school-age children born VPT. These findings open up novel avenues to investigate the potential impact of such atypicalities, and in particular, those related to the atypical maturation of the medial prefrontal regions, on the frequent development of psychiatric disorders in this vulnerable population.