Prefrontal Cortical Folding of the Preterm Brain: A Longitudinal Analysis of Preterm-Born Neonates
Very preterm birth (less than 32 weeks completed gestation) coincides with a rapid period of brain growth and development. Investigating the changes of certain brain regions may allow the development of biomarkers for predicting neurological outcome. The prefrontal cortex, associated with the executive function, undergoes major changes during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, and therefore its development may be altered by very-preterm birth. In this paper we use surface-based spectral matching techniques to analyse how the prefrontal cortex develops between 30 weeks and 40 weeks equivalent gestational age in 5 infants born preterm. Using this method, we can accurately map the regions where the secondary and tertiary sulci and gyri of the prefrontal cortex will form. Additionally, measurements of cortical curvature can be used to estimate the local bending energy required to generate the observed pattern of cortical folding. Longitudinal measurement of the cortical folding change can provide information about the mechanical properties of the underlying tissue and may be useful in discriminating mechanical changes during growth in this vulnerable period of development.
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