In vivo characterization of traumatic brain injury neuropathology with structural and functional neuroimaging

J Neurotrauma. 2006 Oct;23(10):1396-411. doi: 10.1089/neu.2006.23.1396.


Quantitative neuroimaging is increasingly used to study the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on brain structure and function. This paper reviews quantitative structural and functional neuroimaging studies of patients with TBI, with an emphasis on the effects of diffuse axonal injury (DAI), the primary neuropathology in TBI. Quantitative structural neuroimaging has evolved from simple planometric measurements through targeted region-of-interest analyses to whole-brain analysis of quantified tissue compartments. Recent studies converge to indicate widespread volume loss of both gray and white matter in patients with moderate-to-severe TBI. These changes can be documented even when patients with focal lesions are excluded. Broadly speaking, performance on standard neuropsychological tests of speeded information processing are related to these changes, but demonstration of specific brain-behavior relationships requires more refined experimental behavioral measures. The functional consequences of these structural changes can be imaged with activation functional neuroimaging. Although this line of research is at an early stage, results indicate that TBI causes a more widely dispersed activation in frontal and posterior cortices. Further progress in analysis of the consequences of TBI on neural structure and function will require control of variability in neuropathology and behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans