Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Pediatr Res. 2014 January ; 75(0): 85–92.


Copyright 2014 The Authors.


Background—Stimulation of the nervous system plays a central role in brain development and neurodevelopmental outcome. Thalamocortical and corticocortical development is diminished in premature infants and correlated to electroencephalography (EEG) progression. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of orocutaneous stimulation on the modulation of spectral edge frequency, fc=90% (SEF-90) derived from EEG recordings in preterm infants.

Methods—Twenty two preterm infants were randomized to experimental and control conditions. Pulsed orocutaneous stimulation was presented during gavage feedings begun at around 32 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA). The SEF-90 was derived from 2-channel EEG recordings.

Results—Compared to the control condition, the pulsed orocutaneous stimulation produced a significant reorganization of SEF-90 in the left (p = 0.005) and right (p < 0.0001) hemispheres. Notably, the left and right hemisphere showed a reversal in the polarity of frequency shift, demonstrating hemispheric asymmetry in the frequency domain. Pulsed orocutaneous stimulation also produced a significant pattern of short term cortical adaptation and a long term neural adaptation manifest as a 0.5 Hz elevation in SEF-90 after repeated stimulation sessions.

Conclusion—This is the first study to demonstrate the modulating effects of a servo-controlled oral somatosensory input on the spectral features of EEG activity in preterm infants.