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Changes in facial expression are an essential form of social communication, and in non-verbal infants are often used to alert care providers of pain-related distress. However, studies of early human brain development suggest that premature infants aged less than 34 weeks’ gestation do not display discriminative brain activity patterns to equally salient noxious and innocuous events. In this study we are examining the development of facial expression in infants from 28 and 41 weeks’ gestation, and determining whether the temporal emergence of facial discrimination mirrors the developmental profile of the brain’s ability to generate discriminative evoked activity.

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