Background: To provide insight into early neurosensory development in children born very preterm, we assessed the association between early structural brain damage and functional visuospatial attention and motion processing from one to two years corrected age. Methods: In 112 children born at <32 weeks gestational age, we assessed brain damage and growth with a standardized scoring system on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; 1.5 Tesla) scans performed at 29 to 35 weeks gestational age. Of the children with an MRI scan, 82 participated in an eye tracking-based assessment of visuospatial attention and motion processing (Tobii T60XL) at one year corrected age and 59 at two years corrected age. Results: MRI scoring showed good intra- and inter-rater reproducibility. At one year, 10% children had delayed attentional reaction times and 23% had delayed motion reaction times. Moderate to severe brain damage significantly correlated with slower visuospatial reaction times. At two years, despite attention and motion reaction times becoming significantly faster, 20% had delayed attentional reaction times and 35% had delayed motion reaction times, but no correlations with MRI scores were found. The presence of structural brain damage was associated with abnormal functional performance over age. Conclusions: The present study indicates an association between moderate to severe brain damage and visuospatial attention and motion processing dysfunction at one year corrected age. This provides a new perspective on comprehensive MRI scoring and quantitative functional visuospatial assessments and their applicability in children born very preterm in their first years of life.

Eye tracking, Functional assessments, Motion processing, MRI scoring, Structural damage, Visuospatial attention,
Pediatric Neurology
Department of Neuroscience

van Gils, M.M. (Maud M.), Dudink, J, Reiss, I.K.M, Swarte, R.M.C, van der Steen, J, Pel, J.J.M, & Kooiker, M.J.G. (2020). Brain Damage and Visuospatial Impairments: Exploring Early Structure-Function Associations in Children Born Very Preterm. Pediatric Neurology. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2019.12.010