Ventral stream sensitivity in "healthy" preterm-born adolescents: Psychophysical and neuropsychological evaluation

Francesca Tinelli, Sara Bulgheroni, Sara Mazzotti, Chiara Vago, Michela Groppo, Rosa Teresa Scaramuzzo, Daria Riva, Giovanni Cioni

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Background: Deficits of motion processing have been reported in premature and very low birth-weight subjects during infancy, childhood and adolescence. Less is known about ventral stream functioning in preterms. Aim: The aim of this study is to investigate ventral stream functioning in a sample of "healthy" adolescents born preterm with normal outcome and without brain damage. Study design: We enrolled thirty preterm-born adolescents (mean age: 14.2. years, mean gestational age 28.9. weeks, mean birth weight 1097. g), and 34 age-matched term-born controls (mean age: 14.5. years). All subjects were administered a psychophysical test known as "Form Coherence Task" and a comprehensive standardized battery of neuropsychological tests suitable for investigating ventral stream functioning including Street Completion Test, Poppelreuter-Ghent Test and the first part of the Visual Object and Space Perception (VOSP) battery. Dorsal stream visual functioning was investigated by the second part of the VOSP. Results: Preterm (PT) subjects showed the same results in all "ventral" tasks with respect to full-term controls without any correlation to gestational age or birth weight. We found a significant negative correlation between Form Coherence Task and Letters Task (p = .014) and between Form Coherence and Silhouette Tasks (p = .017). No correlation was observed between Form Coherence Task and Street and Ghent Tests. A statistical difference was instead found between PTs and controls in two tasks of the VOSP battery that mostly involve the dorsal stream. Conclusions: Preterm birth per se (in absence of evident brain lesions) is not sufficient to compromise the development of ventral pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Adolescence
  • Neuropsychological and psychophysical tests
  • Preterm birth
  • Ventral stream

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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