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Lateralisation of language function in young adults born very preterm
  1. T M Rushe1,
  2. C M Temple2,
  3. L Rifkin3,
  4. P W R Woodruff4,
  5. E T Bullmore5,
  6. A L Stewart6,
  7. A Simmons7,
  8. T A Russell3,
  9. R M Murray3
  1. 1Department of Psychology, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, N Ireland BT37 0QB
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, UK
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  5. 5Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  6. 6Perintal Brain Research Group, Department of Paediatrics, University College London Medical School, London, UK
  7. 7Department of Neurology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Rushe
    Department of Psychology, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, N Ireland BT37 0QB;


Objective: To explore, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the functional organisation of phonological processing in young adults born very preterm.

Subjects: Six right handed male subjects with radiological evidence of thinning of the corpus callosum were selected from a cohort of very preterm subjects. Six normal right handed male volunteers acted as controls.

Method: Blood oxygenation level dependent contrast echoplanar images were acquired over five minutes at 1.5 T while subjects performed the tasks. During the ON condition, subjects were visually presented with pairs of non-words and asked to press a key when a pair of words rhymed (phonological processing). This task alternated with the OFF condition, which required subjects to make letter case judgments of visually presented pairs of consonant letter strings (orthographic processing). Generic brain activation maps were constructed from individual images by sinusoidal regression and non-parametric testing. Between group differences in the mean power of experimental response were identified on a voxel wise basis by analysis of variance.

Results: Compared with controls, the subjects with thinning of the corpus callosum showed significantly reduced power of response in the left hemisphere, including the peristriate cortex and the cerebellum, as well as in the right parietal association area. Significantly increased power of response was observed in the right precentral gyrus and the right supplementary motor area.

Conclusions: The data show evidence of increased frontal and decreased occipital activation in male subjects with neurodevelopmental thinning of the corpus callosum, which may be due to the operation of developmental compensatory mechanisms.

  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • language
  • brain
  • preterm
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • VWF, visual word form

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