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J Neurotrauma. 2004 Aug;21(8):1059-69.

Cognitive neuroactivation using SPECT and the Stroop Colored Word Test in patients with diffuse brain injury.

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Division of Nuclear Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.


Psychomotor slowing in patients with diffuse brain injury frequently underlies impaired cognitive performance on neuropsychological tests, for example, the Stroop Colored Word test. The aim of the present study was to determine the neural basis associated with performance on the Stroop interference subtask in patients with diffuse brain injury. We hypothesized that patients would be slower than healthy controls, and that this would be associated with brain activations other than those seen in healthy subjects. Brain perfusion, using a split-dose activation paradigm with single photon emission tomography (SPECT) and the Stroop test, was assessed in 9 patients with diffuse brain injury. The Stroop interference score was calculated as a behavioral parameter, and functional imaging data were analyzed with statistical parametrical mapping (SPM99) to determine significant voxel-wise differences of activation between the control and the activation condition. Patients were impaired on the interference subtask of the Stroop test. Comparison of the SPECT data obtained during the activation condition with those obtained during the control condition by means of SPM showed significant activations in the left inferior parietal lobe, the right anterior cingulate extending into the right middle frontal gyrus and the right caudate, and the left posterior cingulate cortex. Patients with diffuse brain injury were slower than healthy controls on the interference subtask of the Stroop test, suggesting difficulty with resistance to distractions. This finding was associated with activation effects in posterior (mainly parietal) brain areas in addition with activation of previously observed anterior (mainly anterior cingulate) brain regions.

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