Investigating the brain structural connectome following working memory training in children born extremely preterm or extremely low birth weight

Claire E. Kelly, Rebecca Harding, Katherine J. Lee, Leona Pascoe, Elisha K. Josev, Megan M. Spencer-Smith, Chris Adamson, Richard Beare, Chiara Nosarti, Gehan Roberts, Lex W. Doyle, Marc L. Seal, Deanne K. Thompson, Peter J. Anderson

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Children born extremely preterm (EP, <28 weeks’ gestation) or extremely low birth weight (ELBW, <1,000 g) are a vulnerable population at high risk of working memory impairments. We aimed to examine changes in the brain structural connectivity networks thought to underlie working memory performance, after completion of a working memory training program (Cogmed) compared with a placebo program in EP/ELBW children. This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial (the Improving Memory in a Preterm Randomised Intervention Trial). Children born EP/ELBW received either the Cogmed or placebo program at 7 years of age (n = 91). A subset of children had magnetic resonance imaging of the brain immediately pre- and 2 weeks post-training (Cogmed n = 28; placebo n = 27). T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted images were used to perform graph theoretical analysis of structural connectivity networks. Changes from pre-training to post-training in structural connectivity metrics were generally similar between randomized groups. There was little evidence that changes in structural connectivity metrics were related to changes in working memory performance from pre- to post-training. Overall, our results provide little evidence that the Cogmed working memory training program has training-specific effects on structural connectivity networks in EP/ELBW children.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • preterm birth

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