International audienceMagnetic resonance imaging has proved to be suitable and efficient for in vivo investigation of the early process of brain gyrification in fetuses and preterm newborns but the question remains as to whether cortical-related measurements derived from both cases are comparable or not. Indeed, the developmental folding trajectories drawn up from both populations have not been compared so far, neither from cross-sectional nor from longitudinal datasets. The present study aimed to compare features of cortical folding between healthy fetuses and early imaged preterm newborns on a cross-sectional basis, over a developmental period critical for the folding process (21-36 weeks of gestational age [GA]). A particular attention was carried out to reduce the methodological biases between the 2 populations. To provide an accurate group comparison, several global parameters characterizing the cortical morphometry were derived. In both groups, those metrics provided good proxies for the dramatic brain growth and cortical folding over this developmental period. Except for the cortical volume and the rate of sulci appearance, they depicted different trajectories in both groups suggesting that the transition from into ex utero has a visible impact on cortical morphology that is at least dependent on the GA at birth in preterm newborns
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