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Imaging shows structural changes in mild traumatic brain injury
Date:10/25/2007

Researchers report that diffusion tensor imaging can identify structural changes in the white matter of the brain that correlates to cognitive deficits even in patients with mild traumatic brain injury.

The study is published in the October issue of the journal Brain.

"We studied patients with all severities of traumatic brain injury -- mild to severe -- and found that abnormalities in white matter existed on the spectrum," said Dr. Marilyn Kraus, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Even in patients with mild TBI -- those identified as having minimal or no loss of consciousness -- there were structural deficits."

Diffusion tensor imaging uses magnetic resonance imaging technology to examine the integrity of white matter that is especially vulnerable to traumatic brain injury. This imaging modality allows researchers to quantify and qualify structural changes in white matter, particularly in chronic TBI patients.

Thirty-seven TBI patients (20 mild and 17 moderate to severe) and 18 healthy volunteers underwent diffusion tensor imaging and neuropsychological testing to evaluate memory, attention, and executive function. All subjects were at least six months post-injury, and the majority were high-functioning people who were employed or in school at the time of evaluation.

The researchers found that structural changes in the white matter correlate to observable cognitive deficits related to thinking, memory and attention. Patients with more severe injuries had greater white matter abnormalities, representing a permanent change in the brain.

"We know that discreet brain areas are important for specific types of functioning, such as thinking, memory, cognition and motor skills," said Kraus. "But what's also very important is that the white matter serves as the connection between these significant areas of the
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzlez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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