Second, although many studies are cross sectional, some issues such as the prediction of long-term development for individuals need to be addressed in longitudinal studies. Unfortunately, reports from longitudinal studies frequently do not contain information on the influence over time of the same variables on the measures under study. Further, many studies are focused on discriminating between groups (e.g., premature/low birthweight vs. full-term) rather than using analyses that permit assessment of predictivity. A few studies, described previously do provide information on the influence of variables over time. These studies, plus the current research reported from our laboratory, offer unique opportunities to observe and document the relative roles that perinatal, physiological, social/demographic, and environmental variables play in influencing development over the infancy and preschool years.
Third, advantages of a longitudinal approach to the study of cognitive and language abilities can be realized only if the measures are appropriate across the age range covered. Unlike some measures, which depend on the maturity of the infant's behavioral response, AER methods can be used with infants, children, and adults to provide measures of brain processing of stimuli from many modalities. Further, the AER methods have shown promise as providing a basis by which accurate predictions of language and cognitive status can be made even when the scales used for status assessments must change as the children mature.
Support for this work was provided in part by a grant to the first two authors from the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD 17860).
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