Cortical Structure and Cognition in Infants and Toddlers.
ABSTRACT: Cortical structure has been consistently related to cognitive abilities in children and adults, yet we know little about how the cortex develops to support emergent cognition in infancy and toddlerhood when cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) are maturing rapidly. In this report, we assessed how regional and global measures of CT and SA in a sample (N?=?487) of healthy neonates, 1-year-olds, and 2-year-olds related to motor, language, visual reception, and general cognitive ability. We report novel findings that thicker cortices at ages 1 and 2 and larger SA at birth, age 1, and age 2 confer a cognitive advantage in infancy and toddlerhood. While several expected brain-cognition relationships were observed, overlapping cortical regions were also implicated across cognitive domains, suggesting that infancy marks a period of plasticity and refinement in cortical structure to support burgeoning motor, language, and cognitive abilities. CT may be a particularly important morphological indicator of ability, but its impact on cognition is relatively weak when compared with gestational age and maternal education. Findings suggest that prenatal and early postnatal cortical developments are important for cognition in infants and toddlers but should be considered in relation to other child and demographic factors.
Project description:Adult humans process communicative interactions by recognizing that information is being communicated through speech (linguistic ability) and simultaneously evaluating how to respond appropriately (social-pragmatic ability). These abilities may originate in infancy. Infants understand how speech communicates in social interactions, helping them learn language and how to interact with others. Infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who show deficits in social-pragmatic abilities, differ in how they attend to the linguistic and social-pragmatic information in their environment. Despite their interdependence, experimental measures of language and social-pragmatic attention are often studied in isolation in infancy. Thus, the extent to which language and social-pragmatic abilities are related constructs remains unknown. Understanding how related or separable language and social-pragmatic abilities are in infancy may reveal whether these abilities are supported by distinguishable developmental mechanisms. This study uses a single communicative scene to examine whether real-time linguistic and social-pragmatic attention are separable in neurotypical infants and infants later diagnosed with ASD, and whether attending to linguistic and social-pragmatic information separately predicts later language and social-pragmatic abilities 1 year later. For neurotypical 12-month-olds and 12-month-olds later diagnosed with ASD, linguistic attention was not correlated with concurrent social-pragmatic attention. Furthermore, infants' real-time attention to the linguistic and social-pragmatic aspects of the scene at 12 months predicted and distinguished language and social-pragmatic abilities at 24 months. Language and social-pragmatic attention during communication are thus separable in infancy and may follow distinguishable developmental trajectories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:UNLABELLED:MicroRNA107 (Mir107) has been thought to relate to the brain structure phenotype of Alzheimer's disease. In this study, we evaluated the cortical anatomy in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and the relation between cortical anatomy and plasma levels of Mir107 and beta-site amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1). Twenty aMCI (20 aMCI) and 24 cognitively normal control (NC) subjects were recruited, and T1-weighted MR images were acquired. Cortical anatomical measurements, including cortical thickness (CT), surface area (SA), and local gyrification index (LGI), were assessed. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to examine plasma expression of Mir107, BACE1 mRNA. Thinner cortex was found in aMCI in areas associated with episodic memory and language, but with thicker cortex in other areas. SA decreased in aMCI in the areas associated with working memory and emotion. LGI showed a significant reduction in aMCI in the areas involved in language function. Changes in Mir107 and BACE1 messenger RNA plasma expression were correlated with changes in CT and SA. We found alterations in key left brain regions associated with memory, language, and emotion in aMCI that were significantly correlated with plasma expression of Mir107 and BACE1 mRNA. This combination study of brain anatomical alterations and gene information may shed lights on our understanding of the pathology of AD. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier NCT01819545.
Project description:Infants increasingly attend to the mouths of others during the latter half of the first postnatal year, and individual differences in selective attention to talking mouths during infancy predict verbal skills during toddlerhood. There is some evidence suggesting that trajectories in mouth-looking vary by early language environment, in particular monolingual or bilingual language exposure, which may have differential consequences in developing sensitivity to the communicative and social affordances of the face. Here, we evaluated whether 6- to 12-month-olds' mouth-looking is related to skills associated with concurrent social communicative development-including early language functioning and emotion discriminability. We found that attention to the mouth of a talking face increased with age but that mouth-looking was more strongly associated with concurrent expressive language skills than chronological age for both monolingual and bilingual infants. Mouth-looking was not related to emotion discrimination. These data suggest that selective attention to a talking mouth may be one important mechanism by which infants learn language regardless of home language environment.
Project description:The effects of high- versus low-quality child care during 2 developmental periods (infant-toddlerhood and preschool) were examined using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care. Propensity score matching was used to account for differences in families who used different combinations of child care quality during the 2 developmental periods. Findings indicated that cognitive, language, and preacademic skills prior to school entry were highest among children who experienced high-quality care in both the infant-toddler and preschool periods, somewhat lower among children who experienced high-quality child care during only 1 of these periods, and lowest among children who experienced low-quality care during both periods. Irrespective of the care received during infancy-toddlerhood, high-quality preschool care was related to better language and preacademic outcomes at the end of the preschool period; high-quality infant-toddler care, irrespective of preschool care, was related to better memory skills at the end of the preschool period.
Project description:While a number of studies have found that an improvement in object shape recognition is associated with language growth in infants and toddlers, no published studies have investigated the longitudinal relation between early shape recognition, and language abilities in later childhood. An electrophysiological measure of semantic processing (the N400) was used to assess shape recognition and general object recognition in a naming context in 20-month-olds. The measures of shape recognition strongly predicted language and cognitive abilities at 6-7 years even after controlling for toddler vocabulary size. The electrophysiological measures of general object recognition were not related to future language or cognitive abilities. These results suggest that early shape recognition abilities may play a role in language acquisition and influence even long-term language outcomes.
Project description:Normal aging is accompanied by an interindividually variable decline in cognitive abilities and brain structure. This variability, in combination with methodical differences and differences in sample characteristics across studies, pose a major challenge for generalizability of results from different studies. Therefore, the current study aimed at cross-validating age-related differences in cognitive abilities and brain structure (measured using cortical thickness [CT]) in two large independent samples, each consisting of 228 healthy older adults aged between 65 and 85 years: the Longitudinal Healthy Aging Brain (LHAB) database (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and the 1000BRAINS (Research Centre Jülich, Germany). Participants from LHAB showed significantly higher education, physical well-being, and cognitive abilities (processing speed, concept shifting, reasoning, semantic verbal fluency, and vocabulary). In contrast, CT values were larger for participants of 1000BRAINS. Though, both samples showed highly similar age-related differences in both, cognitive abilities and CT. These effects were in accordance with functional aging theories, for example, posterior to anterior shift in aging as was shown for the default mode network. Thus, the current two-study approach provides evidence that independently on heterogeneous metrics of brain structure or cognition across studies, age-related effects on cognitive ability and brain structure can be generalized over different samples, assuming the same methodology is used.
Project description:Cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) are altered in many neuropsychiatric disorders and are correlated with cognitive functioning. Little is known about how these components of cortical gray matter develop in the first years of life. We studied the longitudinal development of regional CT and SA expansion in healthy infants from birth to 2 years. CT and SA have distinct and heterogeneous patterns of development that are exceptionally dynamic; overall CT increases by an average of 36.1%, while cortical SA increases 114.6%. By age 2, CT is on average 97% of adult values, compared with SA, which is 69%. This suggests that early identification, prevention, and intervention strategies for neuropsychiatric illness need to be targeted to this period of rapid postnatal brain development, and that SA expansion is the principal driving factor in cortical volume after 2 years of age.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and early-onset psychosis (EOP) are neurodevelopmental disorders that share genetic, clinical and cognitive facets; it is unclear if these disorders also share spatially overlapping cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) abnormalities. MRI scans of 30 ASD, 29 patients with early-onset first-episode psychosis (EO-FEP) and 26 typically developing controls (TD) (age range 10-18 years) were analyzed by the FreeSurfer suite to calculate vertex-wise estimates of CT, SA, and cortical volume. Two publicly available datasets of ASD and EOP (age range 7-18 years and 5-17 years, respectively) were used for replication analysis. ASD and EO-FEP had spatially overlapping areas of cortical thinning and reduced SA in the bilateral insula (all p's?<?.00002); 37% of all left insular vertices presenting with significant cortical thinning and 20% (left insula) and 61% (right insula) of insular vertices displaying decreased SA overlapped across both disorders. In both disorders, SA deficits contributed more to cortical volume decreases than reductions in CT did. This finding, as well as the novel finding of an absence of spatial overlap (for ASD) or marginal overlap (for EOP) of deficits in CT and SA, was replicated in the two nonoverlapping independent samples. The insula appears to be a region with transdiagnostic vulnerability for deficits in CT and SA. The finding of nonexistent or small spatial overlap between CT and SA deficits in young people with ASD and psychosis may point to the involvement of common aberrant early neurodevelopmental mechanisms in their pathophysiology.
Project description:Despite a robust literature examining the association between sleep problems and cognitive abilities in childhood, little is known about this association in toddlerhood, a period of rapid cognitive development. The present study examined the association between various sleep problems, using actigraphy, and performance on a standardized test of cognitive abilities, longitudinally across three ages (30, 36, and 42 months) in a large sample of toddlers (N = 493). Results revealed a between-subject effect in which the children who had more delayed sleep schedules on average also showed poorer cognitive abilities on average but did not support a within-subjects effect. Results also showed that delayed sleep explains part of the association between family socioeconomic context and child cognitive abilities.
Project description:Neuroscientists have debated for centuries whether some regions of the human brain are selectively engaged in specific high-level mental functions or whether, instead, cognition is implemented in multifunctional brain regions. For the critical case of language, conflicting answers arise from the neuropsychological literature, which features striking dissociations between deficits in linguistic and nonlinguistic abilities, vs. the neuroimaging literature, which has argued for overlap between activations for linguistic and nonlinguistic processes, including arithmetic, domain general abilities like cognitive control, and music. Here, we use functional MRI to define classic language regions functionally in each subject individually and then examine the response of these regions to the nonlinguistic functions most commonly argued to engage these regions: arithmetic, working memory, cognitive control, and music. We find little or no response in language regions to these nonlinguistic functions. These data support a clear distinction between language and other cognitive processes, resolving the prior conflict between the neuropsychological and neuroimaging literatures.