Unique Integration of Neuroimaging Biomarkers of White Matter Injury In Premature Infants
Infants who are born premature not only face significant risk of brain injury due to complications in the perinatal period, but the potential for long-term neurodevelopmental disabilities due to the potential for these early injuries to interrupt normal brain maturation processes. Further development of advanced MR techniques are necessary to provide additional insight into the brain development and outcome in the preterm infant. The adult concept of the “connectome” also is relevant in understanding brain networks that underlie the preterm brain. Knowledge of the preterm “connectome” will provide a framework for understanding preterm brain plasticity. By combining conventional imaging techniques with new, more advanced techniques, neuroimaging findings will likely be used in the future as biomarkers for long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes, instruments to assess the efficacy of neuroprotective agents and maneuvers in the neonatal intensive care unit, and as screening instruments to appropriately select infants for longitudinal developmental interventions. Unique computational methods and models including machine learning are needed to help with integration and application of these neuroimaging data.