In a nationwide randomized controlled trial, white matter microstructure was assessed before and immediately after Cogmed Working-Memory Training (CWMT) in school-age neonatal critical illness survivors. Eligible participants were survivors (8–12 years) with an IQ ≥ 80 and a z-score of ≤ −1.5 on (working)memory test at first assessment. Diffusion Tensor Imaging was used to assess white matter microstructure. Associations between any training-induced changes and improved neuropsychological outcome immediately and one year post-CWMT were evaluated as well. The trial was conducted between October 2014–June 2017 at Erasmus MC-Sophia, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Researchers involved were blinded to group allocation. Participants were randomized to CWMT(n = 14) or no-intervention(n = 20). All children completed the CWMT. Global fractional anisotropy(FA) increased significantly post-CWMT compared to no-intervention(estimated-coefficient =.007, p =.015). Increased FA(estimated coefficient =.009, p =.033) and decreased mean diffusivity(estimated-coefficient = −.010, p =.018) were found in the left superior longitudinal fasciculus(SFL) post-CWMT compared no-intervention. Children after CWMT who improved with >1SD on verbal working-memory had significantly higher FA in the left SLF post-CWMT(n = 6; improvement =.408 ±.01) than children without this improvement post-CWMT(n = 6; no-improvement =.384 ±.02), F(1,12) = 6.22, p =.041, ηp 2 =.47. No other structure-function relationships were found post-CWMT. Our findings demonstrate that white matter microstructure and associated cognitive outcomes are malleable by CWMT in survivors of neonatal critical illness.

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Keywords Cognitive remediation, Critical care outcomes, Diffusion tensor imaging, Memory, Neurodevelopmental disorders, Neuroimaging, Neuropsychology
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Journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Schiller, R.M, IJsselstijn, H, Madderom, M.J, van Rosmalen, J.M, van Heijst, A.F.J, Smits, M, … White, T.J.H. (2019). Training-induced white matter microstructure changes in survivors of neonatal critical illness: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 38. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2019.100678