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Deficits in Top-Down Sensory Prediction in Infants At Risk due to Premature Birth

Author(s): Emberson, Lauren L.; Boldin, Alex M.; Riccio, Julie E.; Guillet, Ronnie; Aslin, Richard N.

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Abstract: A prominent theoretical view is that the brain is inherently predictive [1, 2] and that prediction helps drive the engine of development [3, 4]. While infants exhibit neural signatures of top-down, sensory prediction [5, 6], it must be established that deficits in early prediction alter developmental trajectories to start to infer causality between prediction and development. We investigated prediction in infants born prematurely, a leading cause of neuro-cognitive impairment worldwide [7]. Prematurity, independent of medical complications, leads to developmental disturbances [8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and a broad range of developmental delays [13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. Is an alteration in early prediction abilities the common cause? Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), we measured top-down, sensory prediction in preterm infants (born <33 weeks) before infants exhibited clinically-identifiable developmental delays (6 months corrected age). While preterm infants had typical neural responses to presented visual stimuli, they exhibited altered neural responses to predicted visual stimuli. Importantly, a separate behavioral control confirmed that preterm infants detect pattern violations at the same rate as full-terms, establishing selectivity of this response to top-down predictions (e.g., not in learning an AV association). These findings suggest that top-down, sensory prediction plays a crucial role in development and deficits in this ability may be the reason why preterm infants experience altered developmental trajectories and are at-risk for poor developmental outcomes. Moreover, this work presents an opportunity for establishing a neuro-biomarker for early identification of infants at-risk and could guide to early intervention regimens.
Publication Date: Feb-2017
Citation: Emberson, Lauren L, Boldin, Alex M, Riccio, Julie E, Guillet, Ronnie, Aslin, Richard N. (2017). Deficits in Top-Down Sensory Prediction in Infants At Risk due to Premature Birth. Current Biology, 27 (3), 431 - 436. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.028
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.028
ISSN: 0960-9822
Pages: 431 - 436
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Current Biology
Version: Author's manuscript

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