NeuroImage (Jan 2024)

Dynamic Functional Connectivity in Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Harm J. van der Horn,
  • Josef M. Ling,
  • Tracey V. Wick,
  • Andrew B. Dodd,
  • Cidney R. Robertson-Benta,
  • Jessica R. McQuaid,
  • Vadim Zotev,
  • Andrei A. Vakhtin,
  • Sephira G. Ryman,
  • Joana Cabral,
  • John P. Phillips,
  • Richard A. Campbell,
  • Robert E. Sapien,
  • Andrew R. Mayer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 285
p. 120470


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Resting-state fMRI can be used to identify recurrent oscillatory patterns of functional connectivity within the human brain, also known as dynamic brain states. Alterations in dynamic brain states are highly likely to occur following pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (pmTBI) due to the active developmental changes. The current study used resting-state fMRI to investigate dynamic brain states in 200 patients with pmTBI (ages 8-18 years, median = 14 years) at the subacute (∼1-week post-injury) and early chronic (∼ 4 months post-injury) stages, and in 179 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC). A k-means clustering analysis was applied to the dominant time-varying phase coherence patterns to obtain dynamic brain states. In addition, correlations between brain signals were computed as measures of static functional connectivity. Dynamic connectivity analyses showed that patients with pmTBI spend less time in a frontotemporal default mode/limbic brain state, with no evidence of change as a function of recovery post-injury. Consistent with models showing traumatic strain convergence in deep grey matter and midline regions, static interhemispheric connectivity was affected between the left and right precuneus and thalamus, and between the right supplementary motor area and contralateral cerebellum. Changes in static or dynamic connectivity were not related to symptom burden or injury severity measures, such as loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia. In aggregate, our study shows that brain dynamics are altered up to 4 months after pmTBI, in brain areas that are known to be vulnerable to TBI. Future longitudinal studies are warranted to examine the significance of our findings in terms of long-term neurodevelopment.