MRI shows brain disruption in patients with post-concussion syndrome

November 21, 2012

MRI shows changes in the brains of people with post-concussion syndrome (PCS), according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers hope the results point the way to improved detection and treatment for the disorder.

PCS affects approximately 20 percent to 30 percent of people who suffer mild (MTBI)—defined by the as a traumatic event causing brief and/or transient memory dysfunction or disorientation. Symptoms of PCS include headache, poor concentration and memory difficulty.

Conventional cannot distinguish which MTBI patients will develop PCS.

"Conventional imaging with CT or MRI is pretty much normal in MTBI patients, even though some go on to develop symptoms, including severe ," said Yulin Ge, M.D., associate professor, Department of Radiology at the NYU School of Medicine in New York City. "We want to try to better understand why and how these symptoms arise."

Dr. Ge's study used MRI to look at the brain during its resting state, or the state when it is not engaged in a specific task, such as when the mind wanders or while daydreaming. The resting state is thought to involve connections among a number of regions, with the default mode network (DMN) playing a particularly important role.

"Baseline DMN is very important for information processing and maintenance," Dr. Ge said.

Alterations in DMN have been found in several psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, autism and schizophrenia, but little is known about DMN connectivity changes in MTBI.

For the new study, Dr. Ge and colleagues used resting-state functional MRI to compare 23 MTBI patients who had post-traumatic symptoms within two months of the injury and 18 age-matched healthy controls. Resting state MRI detects distinct changes in baseline fluctuations associated with brain functional networks between patients with MTBI and control patients.

The MRI results showed that communication and information integration in the brain were disrupted among key DMN structures after mild head injury, and that the brain tapped into different neural resources to compensate for the impaired function.

"We found decreased functional connectivity in the posterior network of the brain and increased connectivity in the anterior component, probably due to functional compensation in patients with PCS," Dr. Ge said. "The reduced posterior connectivity correlated positively with neurocognitive dysfunction."

Dr. Ge and the other researchers hope to recruit additional MTBI patients for further studies with an eye toward developing a biomarker to monitor disease progression and recovery as well as treatment effects.

"We want to do studies to look at the changes in the network over time and correlate these functional changes with structural changes in the brain," he said. "This could give us hints on treatments to bring back cognitive function."

More information: "Default-Mode Network Disruption in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury," Radiology.

Related Stories

Activity in brain networks related to features of depression

April 3, 2012

Depressed individuals with a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts, i.e. to repeatedly think about particular negative thoughts or memories, show different patterns of brain network activation compared to healthy individuals, ...

Post-stroke depression linked to functional brain impairment

June 5, 2012

Researchers studying stroke patients have found a strong association between impairments in a network of the brain involved in emotional regulation and the severity of post-stroke depression. Results of the study are published ...

Brain connectivity altered in type 2 diabetes

August 1, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have reduced functional connectivity in the default mode network, which is associated with insulin resistance in some brain regions, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Take a trip through the brain (w/ Video)

July 30, 2015

A new imaging tool developed by Boston scientists could do for the brain what the telescope did for space exploration. In the first demonstration of how the technology works, published July 30 in the journal Cell, the researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.