Individuals born very preterm (<32 weeks gestation) are at increased risk for neuromotor impairments. The ability to characterize the structural and functional mechanisms underlying these impairments remains limited using existing neuroimaging techniques. Resting state-functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) holds promise for defining the functional network architecture of the developing brain in relation to typical and aberrant neurodevelopment. In 58 very preterm and 65 term-born children studied from birth to age 12 years, we examined relations between functional connectivity measures from low-motion rs-fMRI data and motor skills assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd edition. Across all subscales, motor performance was better in term than very preterm children. Examination of relations between functional connectivity and motor measures using enrichment analysis revealed between-group differences within cerebellar, frontoparietal, and default mode networks, and between basal ganglia-motor, thalamus-motor, basal ganglia-auditory, and dorsal attention-default mode networks. Specifically, very preterm children exhibited weaker associations between motor scores and thalamus-motor and basal ganglia-motor network connectivity. These findings highlight key functional brain systems underlying motor development. They also demonstrate persisting developmental effects of preterm birth on functional connectivity and motor performance in childhood, providing evidence for an alternative network architecture supporting motor function in preterm children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-583
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Functional connectivity
  • Motor development
  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Prematurity
  • Resting state functional MRI


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