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Corticobulbar Tract Injury, Oromotor Impairment and Language Plasticity in Adolescents Born Preterm

Northam, GB; Morgan, AT; Fitzsimmons, S; Baldeweg, T; Liegeois, F; (2019) Corticobulbar Tract Injury, Oromotor Impairment and Language Plasticity in Adolescents Born Preterm. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , 13 , Article 45. 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00045. Green open access

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Abstract

Children born preterm are at risk of impairments in oromotor control, with implications for early feeding and speech development. In this study, we aimed to identify (a) neuroanatomical markers of persistent oromotor deficits using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) tractography and (b) evidence of compensatory neuroplasticity using functional MRI (fMRI) during a language production task. In a cross-sectional study of 36 adolescents born very preterm (<33 weeks’ gestation) we identified persistent difficulties in oromotor control in 31% of cases, but no clinical diagnoses of speech-sound disorder (e.g., dysarthria, dyspraxia). We used DWI-tractography to examine the microstructure (fractional anisotropy, FA) of the corticospinal and corticobulbar tracts. Compared to the unimpaired group, the oromotor-impaired group showed (i) reduced FA within the dorsal portion of the left corticobulbar tract (containing fibres associated with movements of the lips, tongue, and larynx) and (ii) greater recruitment of right hemisphere language regions on fMRI. We conclude that, despite the development of apparently normal everyday speech, early injury to the corticobulbar tract leads to persistent subclinical problems with voluntary control of the face, lips, jaw, and tongue. Furthermore, we speculate that early speech problems may be ameliorated by cerebral plasticity – in particular, recruitment of right hemisphere language areas.

Type: Article
Title: Corticobulbar Tract Injury, Oromotor Impairment and Language Plasticity in Adolescents Born Preterm
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00045
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00045
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2019 Northam, Morgan, Fitzsimmons, Baldeweg and Liégeois. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: preterm birth, oromotor control, tractography, MRI, language lateralization
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > ICH Developmental Neurosciences Prog
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10068383
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