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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2014 Oct;20(9):887-96. doi: 10.1017/S1355617714000812. Epub 2014 Oct 7.

Disrupted structural connectome is associated with both psychometric and real-world neuropsychological impairment in diffuse traumatic brain injury.

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1Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute,Elkins Park,Pennsylvania.
2Department of Radiology,University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Pennsylvania.
3Department of Neurology,University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia,Pennsylvania.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is likely to disrupt structural network properties due to diffuse white matter pathology. The present study aimed to detect alterations in structural network topology in TBI and relate them to cognitive and real-world behavioral impairment. Twenty-two people with moderate to severe TBI with mostly diffuse pathology and 18 demographically matched healthy controls were included in the final analysis. Graph theoretical network analysis was applied to diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data to characterize structural connectivity in both groups. Neuropsychological functions were assessed by a battery of psychometric tests and the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe). Local connection-wise analysis demonstrated reduced structural connectivity in TBI arising from subcortical areas including thalamus, caudate, and hippocampus. Global network metrics revealed that shortest path length in participants with TBI was longer compared to controls, and that this reduced network efficiency was associated with worse performance in executive function and verbal learning. The shortest path length measure was also correlated with family-reported FrSBe scores. These findings support the notion that the diffuse form of neuropathology caused by TBI results in alterations in structural connectivity that contribute to cognitive and real-world behavioral impairment.

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