Washington: Premature babies perform well in a developmental task linking language and cognition compared to their full-term counterparts, finds a new study. The study was published online in journal of Developmental Science.
Researchers from Northwestern University in the US found that preterm infants are maturationally on par with full-term infants in establishing this link.The study, the first of its kind with preterm infants, tests the relative contributions of infants' experience and maturational status.The team compared healthy preterm and full-term infants at the same maturational age, or age since conception.
"This study permits us to tease apart -- for the first time ever -- the roles of infants' early experience and maturational status in establishing this critical language-cognition link," said senior study author Sandra Waxman. To illustrate, they considered two infants conceived on the same date.If one happens to be born a month early, then although the infants will always share the same maturational age (age since conception), the preterm infant will have an opportunity to acquire an extra month of postnatal experience listening to language.
They compared preterm and full-term infants to identify the developmental timing of their link between language and object categorization.The new study was designed to capitalise on this tightly timed "familiarity-to-novelty" shift in full-term infants.The results showed a robust early link between language and cognition in preterm infants, revealing that this vulnerable population begins life with a strong foundation for linking language and meaning.
Pediatric evidence revealed that although healthy preterm infants reach some developmental milestones on the same maturational timetable as their full-term peers, they nevertheless tend to encounter obstacles in language, cognitive and attentional processing capacities. This is evident in their use of early intervention services from infancy through school age.