Introduction: Preterm infants are at risk for impairment in brain maturation at term equivalent age (TEA). Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, quantitatively reflecting microstructural brain development of white matter regions with parameters such as fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC). Amplitude-integrated electroencephalography (aEEG) assesses electrocortical activity and brain function. Methods: Aim of this study was to investigate a possible correlation between functional and microstructural brain maturation using neonatal aEEG and DTI-MRI at TEA. The study was conducted as a retrospective single-center study in 446 infants born below 32 gestational weeks. Spearman rank’s correlation coefficients were calculated between aEEG (total maturation score) and FA/ADC value. To compare aEEG and DTI-MRI to neurodevelopmental outcome at 24 months of corrected age, we performed a multivariate linear regression analysis. Results: Analysis showed an all-time significant correlation between total maturation score and FA/ADC values of the corpus callosum at TEA with the strongest correlation at day 2, day 3, week 3, and week 4. After including perinatal variables in the model, this correlation remained highly significant at day 2 and 3. When comparing the association of aEEG and DTI-MRI to outcome, both the total maturation score at day 2, day 3, and FA/ADC of the splenium of the corpus callosum showed a significant correlation. Conclusion: This study indicates that early monitoring of functional brain maturation may predict later assessment of microstructural brain development of corpus callosum in preterm infants with a relation to neurodevelopmental outcome.

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