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Clin Neurophysiol. 2015 Feb;126(2):314-24. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2014.05.033. Epub 2014 Jun 23.

Neurophysiological correlates of dysregulated emotional arousal in severe traumatic brain injury.

Author information

  • 1School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
  • 2School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Electronic address: j.rushby@unsw.edu.au.
  • 3Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia; School of Medical Sciences, UNSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia; ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study aimed to elucidate relationships between dysregulated emotional arousal after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), alpha power and skin conductance levels (SCL), and brain atrophy.

METHODS:

Nineteen adults with severe TBI and 19 age-, education-, and gender-matched controls (all p's>0.05) participated. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan established bilateral insulae and amygdale volumes. Mean EEG alpha power and SCLs were recorded simultaneously across four, 2 min conditions: eyes-closed pre-task baseline, view neutral face, happy face and angry face.

RESULTS:

Scalp-wide alpha suppression occurred from pre-task baseline to the face-viewing conditions (p<.001), but was diminished in TBI (p=.04). TBI participants exhibited marginally significantly lower SCL (p=.051), and elevated alpha power hemispherically, contrasting with controls' midline dominance (p<.01). Significant atrophy was observed in most structures in TBI participants (p's=.004-0.04). Larger left insula, left amygdala and right amygdala correlated positively with alpha power and alpha suppression, and SCLs; all structures uniquely contributed to variance in arousal.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest that alpha power provides a sensitive measure of dysregulated emotional arousal post-TBI. Atrophy in pertinent brain structures may contribute to these disturbances.

SIGNIFICANCE:

These findings have potential implications for the assessment and remediation of TBI-related arousal deficits, by directing more targeted remediation, and better assessing post-TBI recovery.

Crown Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Amygdala; EEG alpha power; Emotional arousal; Insula; Severe traumatic brain injury; Skin conductance level

PMID:
25018009
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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