A team of researchers from the University of Maryland have developed a new imaging technique that can identify the specific changes in neural communication as a result of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The researchers state that this information could help explain why many patients with a diagnosis of mTBI will experience physical, cognitive, and behavioural symptoms that may persist. The opensource study is published in the journal Brain Connectivity.
The current study employs the imaging technique known as resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). Instead of relying on a single frequency range to analyze functional connectivity in the brain, the researchers measured multiple frequency ranges using a technique known as discrete wavelength decomposition.
The team imaged sixty-three patients using rs-fMRI across multiple frequency ranges, 31 patients where neurologically intact subjects serving as a control population and 32 patients where diagnosed with mTBI. All participants were over the age of 18. The current study demonstrated for the first time ever that rs-fMRI can effectively be used to assess the effect of mTBI on the communication within the DMN.
The data findings also showed alterations in functional connectivity in patients during the acute and chronic stages of injury, differences between the two groups, and recovery of connectivity over time. The results showed DMN connectivity progressively changes during the first 6 months following injury, which is suggestive of either compensatory reorganization or disrupted network communication due to potential structural damage.
The team surmise that the consequences of head injury are difficult to detect with conventional CT and MRI diagnostic methods. This is especially true in the weeks to months following the traumatic event. They go on to add that they are on the forefront of developing a new MRI technique to pinpoint brain injury in the critical window after the traumatic event has occurred.
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