Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo released their findings in Scientific Reports on cognitive flexibility, exploring how it may occur among preterm infants, resulting in potential neurobehavioral implications.
Researchers conducted a longitudinal study on more than 50 infants (27 preterm and 25 term infants) at age one.
“We conducted a longitudinal study to investigate oculomotor response shifting in 27 preterm and 25 term infants at 12 months and its relationship with general cognitive development and effortful control, which is a temperamental aspect closely associated with executive function, at 18 months,” the study reads.
“We found that moderate to late preterm and term infants significantly inhibited previously rewarded look responses, while very preterm infants did not show significant inhibition of perseverative looking at 12 months,” according to the study.
What the study suggests is that an increased risk of negative neurobehavioral outcomes in preterm children may arise from early atypical patterns of oculomotor response shifting. This includes outcomes such as deficits in executive function and attention deficits.
“These findings suggest that the early assessment of perseverative looking in oculomotor response shifting would be a behavioural marker associated with higher risks of later negative neurobehavioural outcomes, including attention-related problems in preterm populations.”