Altered brain activation in military personnel with one or more traumatic brain injuries following blast

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 Jan;18(1):89-100. doi: 10.1017/S1355617711001433. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Explosive blast is a frequent cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with an event-related stimulus-response compatibility task was used to compare 15 subjects with mild, chronic blast-related TBI with 15 subjects who had not experienced a TBI or blast exposure during deployment. Six TBI subjects reported multiple injuries. Relative to the control group, TBI subjects had slightly slower responses during fMRI and increased somatic complaints and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. A between-group analysis indicated greater activation during stimulus-response incompatibility in TBI subjects within the anterior cingulate gyrus, medial frontal cortex, and posterior cerebral areas involved in visual and visual-spatial functions. This activation pattern was more extensive after statistically controlling for reaction time and symptoms of PTSD and depression. There was also a negative relationship between symptoms of PTSD and activation within posterior brain regions. These results provide evidence for increased task-related activation following mild, blast-related TBI and additional changes associated with emotional symptoms. Limitations of this study include no matching for combat exposure and different recruitment strategies so that the control group was largely a community-based sample, while many TBI subjects were seeking services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Military Personnel
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Report
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Oxygen