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J Neurotrauma. 2017 Nov 15;34(22):3107-3116. doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.5022. Epub 2017 Aug 4.

Accelerated Changes in Cortical Thickness Measurements with Age in Military Service Members with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Savjani RR1,2,3, Taylor BA1,4,5, Acion L6,7, Wilde EA1,4,5,8, Jorge RE1,6.

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1 Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center , Houston, Texas.
2 Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
7 Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine , Bryan, Texas.
3 Department of Radiology, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
4 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
6 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
8 Instituto de Cálculo, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONICET , Buenos Aires, Argentina .
5 Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.


Finding objective and quantifiable imaging markers of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) has proven challenging, especially in the military population. Changes in cortical thickness after injury have been reported in animals and in humans, but it is unclear how these alterations manifest in the chronic phase, and it is difficult to characterize accurately with imaging. We used cortical thickness measures derived from Advanced Normalization Tools (ANTs) to predict a continuous demographic variable: age. We trained four different regression models (linear regression, support vector regression, Gaussian process regression, and random forests) to predict age from healthy control brains from publicly available datasets (n = 762). We then used these models to predict brain age in military Service Members with TBI (n = 92) and military Service Members without TBI (n = 34). Our results show that all four models overpredicted age in Service Members with TBI, and the predicted age difference was significantly greater compared with military controls. These data extend previous civilian findings and show that cortical thickness measures may reveal an association of accelerated changes over time with military TBI.


ANTs; MRI; OEF/OIF/OND Service Members; TBI; cortical thickness; gray matter; mTBI; mild traumatic brain injury; traumatic brain injury; volumetrics

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