An automatic MEG low-frequency source imaging approach for detecting injuries in mild and moderate TBI patients with blast and non-blast causes

Neuroimage. 2012 Jul 16;61(4):1067-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.04.029. Epub 2012 Apr 20.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of sustained impairment in military and civilian populations. However, mild (and some moderate) TBI can be difficult to diagnose because the injuries are often not detectable on conventional MRI or CT. Injured brain tissues in TBI patients generate abnormal low-frequency magnetic activity (ALFMA, peaked at 1-4 Hz) that can be measured and localized by magnetoencephalography (MEG). We developed a new automated MEG low-frequency source imaging method and applied this method in 45 mild TBI (23 from combat-related blasts, and 22 from non-blast causes) and 10 moderate TBI patients (non-blast causes). Seventeen of the patients with mild TBI from blasts had tertiary injuries resulting from the blast. The results show our method detected abnormalities at the rates of 87% for the mild TBI group (blast-induced plus non-blast causes) and 100% for the moderate group. Among the mild TBI patients, the rates of abnormalities were 96% and 77% for the blast and non-blast TBI groups, respectively. The spatial characteristics of abnormal slow-wave generation measured by Z scores in the mild blast TBI group significantly correlated with those in non-blast mild TBI group. Among 96 cortical regions, the likelihood of abnormal slow-wave generation was less in the mild TBI patients with blast than in the mild non-blast TBI patients, suggesting possible protective effects due to the military helmet and armor. Finally, the number of cortical regions that generated abnormal slow-waves correlated significantly with the total post-concussive symptom scores in TBI patients. This study provides a foundation for using MEG low-frequency source imaging to support the clinical diagnosis of TBI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Blast Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted