Visual event-related brain potentials in 4-month-old infants at risk for neurodevelopmental impairments

Raye Ann O DeRegnier*, Michael K. Georgieff, Charles A. Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The recording of event-related potentials (ERPs) is an electrophysiologic technique that has been used to evaluate the functional maturation of neural pathways responsible for recognition memory systems in infants and children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate ERP correlates of visual recognition memory in 4-month-old infants at risk for later cognitive impairments. We compared ERPs using a test of shape recognition at 4 months of age (adjusted for prematurity) in 16 high-risk, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) survivors and 16 healthy full-term infants. ERPs were recorded while infants were familiarized with one stimulus (a red cross, 15 trials), then tested with 60 trials of this familiar stimulus and a novel stimulus (a red corkscrew). Both the NICU and control groups' ERPs demonstrated evidence of differential processing of the two stimuli, but the NICU groups' ERP patterns were distinctly different from those of the control group. In the NICU group, the novel stimulus elicited parietal positivity at 1000-1700 ms post-stimulus, whereas in the control group the novel stimulus elicited occipital and frontal negativity at 500-1700 ms poststimulus. The ERP pattern demonstrated by the NICU group was atypical as it has not been previously described in healthy infants. The results of the study indicate that the ERP technique can be used to demonstrate altered patterns of neural activity during tasks of visual recognition memory in high-risk infants. We speculate that the atypical ERP patterns described in this study may indicate that patterns of synoptic organization were altered by neonatal events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-28
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Event-related potentials
  • High-risk infant
  • Perinatal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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