Developing objective templates to characterise visual, tactile and noxious stimulus responses
Premature infants are exposed to sensory stimuli at times when they may still be vulnerable to the influences of such unexpected stimuli. This extrauterine exposure may impact the development of the brain. To objectively quantify the effects on the multisensory systems of each infant, we aim to characterise the responses to sensory stimuli and identify standard ‘template’ responses. We initially developed and validated a template of noxious-evoked brain activity in term infants. More recently we used this methodology to characterise responses to visual and tactile stimuli in term infants, and demonstrated that this template approach can identify age-related maturation in sensory responses in preterm infants and investigated the impact of prematurity on responses. We are now developing age-dependent templates for responses to visual, noxious and tactile stimuli. We aim to use these to investigate whether differences in the way individual infants respond to stimuli relate to their exposure to the extrauterine environment.