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J Neurotrauma. 2009 May;26(5):665-75. doi: 10.1089/neu.2008-0644.

Reduction of functional brain connectivity in mild traumatic brain injury during working memory.

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  • 1Behavioural Brain Sciences, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom.


Working memory deficits are present in patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Functional connectivity of different brain regions is required for adequate working memory. Brain injury is associated with disrupted connectivity due to microscopic axonal damage. In this investigation, we sought to investigate functional brain connectivity during working memory in MTBI patients. A sample of 30 MTBI patients and 30 age-, education-, and gender-matched normal controls were studied. Working memory was assessed with the Sternberg's verbal and visuo-spatial working memory tasks. Electro-encephalography (EEG) was recorded from 128 channels while subjects performed working memory tasks and during eyes closed resting condition. EEG coherence was computed in theta; lower and upper alpha; and lower and upper beta frequency bands during the encoding, retention, and retrieval stages of working memory as well as during eyes-closed rest. We found that the MTBI patients had impaired verbal and visuo-spatial working memory. The different stages of working memory were associated with poor intrahemispheric coherence in long-range (fronto-parietal) and mid-range (fronto-temporal and temporo-parietal) regions as well as poor interhemispheric coherence in the frontal and temporal regions in the MTBI patients. The deficit in coherence was present in theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands. However, the MTBI and the control group had comparable coherence values in intra- and inter-hemispheric regions during eyes closed rest. We suggest that the inter- and intra-hemispheric functional connectivity is impaired in MTBI during working memory performance.

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