Impaired executive functioning in young adults born very preterm

Chiara Nosarti, Elena Giouroukou, Nadia Micali, Larry Rifkin, Robin G. Morris, Robin M. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Individuals born very preterm (VPT) are at increased risk of perinatal brain injury and long-term cognitive and behavioral problems. Executive functioning, in particular, has been shown to be impaired in VPT children and adolescents. This study prospectively assessed executive function in young adults who were born VPT (<33 weeks of gestation) [n = 61; mean age, 22.25 (±1.07) years; range, 20.62-24.78 years] and controls [n = 64; mean age, 23.20 (±1.48) years; range, 19.97-25.46 years]. Tests used comprised the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), the Hayling Sentence Completion Test (HSCT), the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT), the Animal and Object test, the Trail-Making Test (TMT), and the Test of Attentional Performance (TAP). VPT participants showed specific executive function impairments in tasks involving response inhibition and mental flexibility, even when adjusting for IQ, gender, and age. No significant associations were observed between executive function test scores and perinatal variables or neonatal ultrasound classification. The results suggest that, although free from major physical disability, VPT young adults perform worse than controls on tasks involving selective aspects of executive processing, such as mental flexibility and response inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Gestational age
  • Inhibition (psychology)
  • Neuropsychology
  • Premature birth
  • Wechsler scales


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