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Makarov, Christine (24. September 2021): Analysis of brain structure in premature-born adults. Master Thesis, Faculty of Biology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
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Abstract

My master’s thesis with the title “Analysis of brain structure in premature-born adults” is based on the discoveries of various developmental differences that have been found in premature-born individuals, both shortly after birth and in adults. However, it was not known to what extent these developmental differences are correlated and whether there might even be a causal relationship between structural differences and cognitive performance. To investigate these questions, MRI derived information on brain structure is combined in order to compute dependencies between different affected developmental processes. The analyses include statistical testing, correlation analysis as well as causal inference on a dataset consisting of 101 very preterm-born/ very low birth weight adults and 111 term-born control subjects. We found significant differences in very preterm- compared to term-born adults in multiple developmental processes, and these processes can be grouped by similarity into four main clusters. Furthermore, we found causal relationships between several developmental processes and cognitive performance. These findings pave the way for further research with the goal to improve risk prediction and the development of drug targets for preterm-born neonates.