Attention problems are common in school-age children born very preterm (VPT; < 32 weeks gestational age), but the contribution of aberrant functional brain connectivity to these problems is not known. As part of a prospective longitudinal study, brain functional connectivity (fc) was assessed alongside behavioral measures of selective, sustained, and executive attention in 58 VPT and 65 full-term (FT) born children at corrected-age 12 years. VPT children had poorer sustained, shifting, and divided attention than FT children. Within the VPT group, poorer attention scores were associated with between-network connectivity in ventral attention, visual, and subcortical networks, whereas between-network connectivity in the frontoparietal, cingulo-opercular, dorsal attention, salience and motor networks was associated with attention functioning in FT children. Network-level differences were also evident between VPT and FT children in specific attention domains. Findings contribute to our understanding of fc networks that potentially underlie typical attention development and suggest an alternative network architecture may help support attention in VPT children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1383-1394
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • attention
  • functional connectivity
  • networks
  • outcome
  • preterm


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