Research Reports - Abnormal whole-brain functional networks in homogeneous acute mild traumatic brain injury

Neurology. 2012 Jul 10;79(2):175-82

Shumskaya E, Andriessen TM, Norris DG, Vos PE

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the whole-brain resting-state networks in a homogeneous
group of patients with acute mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and to identify
alterations in functional connectivity induced by MTBI.
METHODS: Thirty-five patients with acute MTBI and 35 healthy control subjects,
matched in age, gender, handedness, and education, underwent resting-state fMRI,
susceptibility weighted imaging, neuropsychological, and postconcussive symptom
assessments. We ensured the homogeneity of the patient group by limiting the
injury mechanism to fronto-occipital impacts. Alterations in functional
connectivity were analyzed by using data-driven independent component analysis,
which is not biased by a priori region selection.
RESULTS: We found a decrease in functional connectivity within the motor-striatal
network in the MTBI group. At the same time, patients showed deficits in
psychomotor speed as well as in speed of information processing. We propose that
although disorders in motor function after MTBI are rarely reported, injury still
has an effect on motor functioning, which in its turn may also explain the
reduction in speed of information processing. Further, we found a cluster of
increased functional connectivity in the right frontoparietal network in the MTBI
group. We suggest that this abnormal increased connectivity might reflect
increased awareness to external environment and explain excessive cognitive
fatigue reported by patients with MTBI. It might also underlie the physical
postconcussive symptoms, such as headache and increased sensitivity to
noise/light.
CONCLUSIONS: We proved that whole-brain functional connectivity is altered early
(within 4 weeks) after MTBI, suggesting that changes in functional networks
underlie the cognitive deficits and postconcussive complaints reported by
patients with MTBI.

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