Infant Communication Outcomes Relate to Language Network Connectivity In Utero
Rutva Master1 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Emily Nichols1, Roy Eagleson1, Emma Duerden1, Sandrine De Ribaupierre1; 1Western University
There is evidence that the language network begins to develop in utero, however whether connectivity strength can predict later language outcomes is unknown. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data, we examined the FC of the language network with cognition-related brain regions in utero, and how it relates to developmental outcomes. The goals of this study were to: 1) use rs-fMRI data to evaluate FC patterns between the primary auditory cortex and the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and 2) assess interhemispheric connectivity between these regions. 25 mothers were scanned using MRI during the third trimester and completed the ASQ, a validated screening tool for identifying developmental delays in infants and young children when their infant was 3 months. Infants were divided into high and low communication groups based on the communication sub-scale of the ASQ using a median split. Left Heschl’s gyrus showed enhanced connectivity with the precentral, superior frontal, and middle frontal gyri in the high communication group. Furthermore, in infants with strong communication skills, critical language-processing areas such as the pars triangularis and pars opercularis, exhibited robust connectivity not only within the same hemisphere but also across hemispheres. The enhanced connectivity observed in high-communication infants suggests a more efficient and widespread neural network supporting language skills, emphasizing the importance of early childhood development in shaping subsequent communication abilities. Identifying specific FC patterns associated with communication skills may inform targeted interventions for infants at risk of language delays.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging
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