Cognitive dysfunction and brain development in very preterm children – the VIBeS (Victorian Infant Brain Studies) Longitudinal Cohort Study. The VIBeS cohort is the world’s largest prospective longitudinal neuroimaging and neurodevelopmental study of very preterm and term children. This cohort has undergone brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at term equivalent age and seven years old, and neurodevelopmental assessments at two, five and seven years of age. The current study involves a 13-year follow-up of the VIBeS cohort and is seeking to better understand how cognitive skills develop in preterm children, and how brain injury and brain development underpin cognitive impairments. It aims to determine if cognitive impairments in preterm children worsen or improve with age, providing essential knowledge for diagnosis and management. It is also trying to determine whether neonatal MRI scans can predict cognitive deficits in preterm 13-year-olds, enhancing early detection and intervention for those at high risk. Finally, the study aims to describe brain atypicalities in preterm 13-year-olds and their association with cognitive deficits to aid our understanding of prematurity-related neuroplasticity.

* CA – Corrected Age (for prematurity)


Study name Victorian Infant Brain Study
Study abbreviation VIBeS
Current principal investigator/s

A/Professor Peter Anderson

Dr Terrie E Inder (Brigham and Women’s Hospital)

Professor Lex Doyle (MCRI, RWH, UniMelb)

A/Professor Deanne Thompson (MCRI, RCH)

Professor Jeanie Cheong (MCRI, RWH)

Current project manager A/Professor Peter Anderson
Cohort representative (study contact) A/Professor Peter Anderson
Phone (03) 9345 4836

Primary Institution

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Monash University

Royal Women’s Hospital

The Royal Children’s Hospital – RCH

Collaborating Institution/s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston MA, USA
Major funding sources National Health and Medical Research Council
Study website
Are data available to others outside study team? The data are not publicly available and is only available to team members and collaborators. Occasionally we will send data to experts outside the team for specific analyses/interpretation.
Study focus Documenting the trajectory of brain development and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children born very preterm compared with term controls. Investigating brain abnormalities and environmental factors contributing to high proportion of developmental impairment in preterm children.
Sampling frame 227 preterm children (born < 30 weeks’ gestation or with birthweight < 1250 g) recruited from eligible admissions to the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne (Australia; control sample of 77 term children (born 37 to 42 weeks’ gestation).
Year commenced 2001
Commencement sample Preterm: 210 from birth
Term: 47 from birth plus 43 from age 2 
Intergenerational? No
Imaging Qualitative MRI
3-Dimensional Quantitative Volumetric Processing
Diffusion Tensor MRI
Functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI)
Brain ultrasound
Linkage No
Biosamples? No 
Ethics approvals or requirements This project only (Specific consent)


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1  2001 – 2003 Term assessed shortly after birth
Pre-term assessed at term equivalent age
227 (pre-term)
46 (term)
2  2001 – 2003 2 years (corrected age for pre-term) 220 assessed (pre-term)
76 assessed (45 from birth term group plus 31 term controls recruited at 2 years)
3  2006 – 2008 5 years (corrected age for pre-term)
Pre-term – 60.5 months, Term – 64.0 months
195 assessed (pre-term)
69 assessed (term)
4  2008 – 2010 7 years (corrected age for pre-term)
Pre-term – 7.5 years, Term – 7.6 years
198 assessed (pre-term)
70 assessed (term)
5 2014 – 2016 13 years (corrected age for pre-term) Data not yet available