The neurocognitive basis of inattention in children born very preterm

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Inattention is the most common adverse outcome for children born very preterm (≤32 weeks gestation). It is thought to arise from the atypical neurodevelopment and brain injury that follows birth at such early gestations. The way that inattention presents in this population, however, is different from the patterns observed in ADHD cohorts. This raises the question of whether the neural and cognitive mechanisms that underpin inattention in term-born and very preterm children are equivalent.

In this talk, I will describe three approaches that compare the neurocognitive basis of inattention in children born very preterm with that in their term-born peers. Two groups of 8-to-11-year-olds (65 very preterm, 48 term-born) were recruited to the PATCH Study (Preterm birth and ATtention in CHildren), where they completed a cognitive and EEG testing battery. To facilitate comparison of predictors of inattention, the groups both included children displaying a range of parent-rated (in)attentive behaviours.

In the first analysis, we used traditional cognitive tests to isolate the executive functioning and basic cognitive processes that predicted parent-rated inattention in both groups of children. In the second analysis, we used drift diffusion modelling to understand which aspects of the “go/no-go” decision in a sustained attention task predicted parent-rated inattention, and investigate how these differed between groups. In the third (in-progress) analysis, we are using event-related potentials evoked during “motivating” and “standard” variants of a cued-continuous performance task, to understand and compare how motivational salience impacts sustained attention.

Taken together, our results indicate that while many of the mechanisms underpinning inattention are shared across term-born and very preterm children, others may be unique to those born at early gestations.
Period10 Oct 2023
Held atUniversity of Sheffield, United Kingdom