The report was published online in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For the study, Walhovd's team compared brain structures with birth weight in more than 600 teens. To find out if these differences in brain size had an effect on brain function, participants were given standardized tests.
The researchers found that children who weighed more as babies had larger surface area in many regions of the brain and bigger brains than babies who weighed less. These results remained even after the researchers took into account age, sex, household income and family genetics.
Some of the brain areas that appeared to be most related to birth weight are partly responsible for resolving what are called cognitive conflicts, which has to do with the brain's ability to process information and make judgments.
Although there was a link between brain function and these areas of the brain, there was no connection between birth weight and overall brain functioning, the researchers noted.
For more on childhood development, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Kristine Beate Walhovd, Ph.D., professor of neuropsychology, University of Oslo, Norway; Rose Alvarez-Salvat, pediatric psychologist, Miami Children's Hospital; Nov. 19-23, 2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online
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