Auditory Structural Connectivity in Preterm and Healthy Term Infants During the First Postnatal Year
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Assessing language development in the first postnatal year is difficult, as receptive and expressive skills are rudimentary. Although outward manifestations of change are limited, the auditory language system is thought to undergo critical development at this age, as the foundations are laid for the rapid onset of spoken language in the second and third years. We recruited 11 infants, 7 healthy controls (gestational age = 40.69 ± 0.56; range from 40 to 41.43) and preterm babies (gestational age = 28.04 ± 0.95; range from 27.43 to 29.43) who underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging study during the first postnatal year (age at scan = 194.18 ± 97.98). We assessed white matter tracts using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging with probabilistic tractography. Fractional anisotropy was found to be largely mature even at one month, although there was a little further increase during the first postnatal year in both the acoustic radiation and the direct brainstem-Heschl's pathway.