Neurodevelopmental disorders are a diverse group of behaviourally-relevant multifactorial disorders related to an impairment of growth, maturation, or development of the central nervous system. The role of the hippocampus, however, has only recently been acknowledged. These disorders affect memory, emotion, cognitive abilities, and behaviour. Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders might have comorbid disorders including intellectual impairment, seizures, and anxiety. The hippocampus is known to be vulnerable to hypoxia, stress, and malnutrition, and thus plays a clinically relevant role in children born preterm, after having experienced febrile seizures, fetal alcohol, or cocaine. Hippocampal dysfunctions are also known to be inherent as seen in Angelman syndrome, fragile-X syndrome, or Down syndrome. Complex interactions between environmental conditions and genetically predispositions are discussed in relation to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or Gilles de la Tourette syndrome in which hippocampal alterations are reported as well. However, even in normal brain development, there is a relationship between hippocampal structure and cognitive function as pointed out at the beginning of this chapter. Here, the structure–function relationship of the hippocampus within these complex syndromes and findings of developmental impairments are reviewed. The introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particularly with volumetric analysis, but also of functional imaging methods such as functional MRI (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), or single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) facilitated the study of hippocampal changes associated with deficits in children in recent years.
Keywords: hippocampus, neurodevelopment, intelligence, born preterm, febrile seizures, hippocampal sclerosis, alcohol, cocaine, autism spectrum disorders, Angelman syndrome, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome
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