Preterm-born children have high rates of motor impairments, but mechanisms for early identification remain limited. We hypothesized that neonatal motor system functional connectivity (FC) would relate to motor outcomes at age two years; currently, this relationship is not yet well-described in very preterm (VPT; born <32 weeks’ gestation) infants with and without brain injury. We recruited 107 VPT infants – including 55 with brain injury (grade III–IV intraventricular hemorrhage, cystic periventricular leukomalacia, post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus) – and collected FC data at/near term-equivalent age (35–45 weeks postmenstrual age). Correlation coefficients were used to calculate the FC between bilateral motor and visual cortices and thalami. At two years corrected-age, motor outcomes were assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition. Multiple imputation was used to estimate missing data, and regression models related FC measures to motor outcomes. Within the brain-injured group only, interhemispheric motor cortex FC was positively related to gross motor outcomes. Thalamocortical and visual FC were not related to motor scores. This suggests neonatal alterations in motor system FC may provide prognostic information about impairments in children with brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103260
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Functional connectivity
  • Motor cortex
  • Preterm birth


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