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Altered cortical processing of somatosensory input in pre-term infants who had high-grade germinal matrix-intraventricular haemorrhage

Kimberley Whitehead, Laura Jones, Maria Pureza Laudiano-Dray, Judith Meek, Lorenzo Fabrizi
NeuroImage: Clinical 2019 November 28, 25: 102095
31835239
High-grade (large) germinal matrix-intraventricular haemorrhage (GM-IVH) is one of the most common causes of somatomotor neurodisability in pre-term infants. GM-IVH presents during the first postnatal week and can impinge on somatosensory circuits resulting in aberrant somatosensory cortical events straight after injury. Subsequently, somatosensory circuits undergo significant plastic changes, sometimes allowing the reinstatement of a somatosensory cortical response. However, it is not known whether this restructuring results in a full recovery of somatosensory functions. To investigate this, we compared somatosensory responses to mechanical stimulation measured with 18-channels EEG between infants who had high-grade GM-IVH (with ventricular dilatation and/or intraparenchymal lesion; n = 7 studies from 6 infants; mean corrected gestational age = 33 weeks; mean postnatal age = 56 days) and age-matched controls (n = 9 studies from 8 infants; mean corrected gestational age = 32 weeks; mean postnatal age = 36 days). We showed that infants who had high-grade GM-IVH did not recruit the same cortical source configuration following stimulation of the foot, but their response to stimulation of the hand resembled that of controls. These results show that somatosensory cortical circuits are reinstated in infants who had GM-IVH, during the several weeks after injury, but remain different from those of infants without brain injury. An important next step will be to investigate whether these evidences of neural reorganisation predict neurodevelopmental outcome.

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