Exercise Can Reduce Cognitive Limitations in Children Born Preterm, Study Reveals

News: Children born very preterm have deficits in motor skills and limited impulse control when compared to children born at term. According to a new study, targeted motor skills training could help such children even when they are older.

Researchers from the University of Basel compared a group of 54 very preterm children aged 9 to 13 years with a control group of children of the same age who had been born at term. The research team tested the impulse control in children using a “go/no go” game where children receive signals to perform a task and need to suppress their impulse to move.

To know how the children process the stimulus while performing the task, the researchers monitored some brain activity parameters using an EEG (electroencephalogram). As per results, on average, premature children struggled to suppress the impulse to move due to impaired attention processes. Upon testing gross and fine motor skills in other experiments, they found that the greater the deficit in motor skills, the more limited the impulse control in the children born very preterm.
The researchers concluded that targeted motor skills training (exercise) could also reduce cognitive limitations in children born preterm. This research has important implications in supporting premature children because limited impulse control can have negative consequences in the long run and restrict these children’s educational opportunities as said by Dr. Sebastian Ludyga.

To Know More, You May Refer To:

Sebastian Ludyga, Uwe Pühse, Markus Gerber, Manuel Mücke, Sakari Lemola, Andrea Capone Mori, Mark Brotzmann, Peter Weber. Very preterm birth and cognitive control: The mediating roles of motor skills and physical fitness. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2021; 49: 100956 DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100956

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