Motor Cortex Facilitation During Speech Listening in Children Born Preterm.
The University of Adelaide
Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation
Dr Julia Pitcher
We recently identified altered neurophysiology of the brain motor areas of preterm children that correlate strongly with cognitive dysfunction, particularly language comprehension and speech perception. In adults passively listening to speech, motor cortex excitability is increased and is thought to reflect motor centres contributing to decoding word meaning. Since motor cortex development is abnormal in preterm children, this language-related motor ability may also be abnormal, contributing to their learning difficulties. Non-invasive neurophysiological techniques will be used to test this hypothesis in 12-14 year old children born after various lengths of pregnancy. The findings will guide future development and testing of novel interventions to improve motor and cognitive outcomes in preterm children.