The Role of Thalamic Damage in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

J Neurotrauma. 2016 Jan 15;33(2):163-7. doi: 10.1089/neu.2015.3965. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


There is growing alarm in the United States about an epidemiologically large occurrence of mild traumatic brain injury with serious long lasting consequences. Although conventional imaging has been unable to identify damage capable of explaining its organic origin or discerning patients at risk of developing long-term or permanently disabling neurological impairment, most disease models assume that diffuse axonal injury in white matter must be present but is difficult to resolve. The few histopathological investigations conducted, however, show only limited evidence of such damage, which cannot account for the stereotypical globalized nature of symptoms generally reported in patients. This review examines recent proposals that in addition to white matter, the thalamus may be another important further site of injury. Although its possible role still remains largely under-investigated, evidence from experimental human and animal models, as well as simulational and analytical representations of mild head injury and other related conditions, suggest that this strategically vital region of the brain, which has reciprocal projections to the entire cerebral cortex, could feasibly play an important role in understanding pathology and predicting outcome.

Keywords: concussion; experimental disease models; mild traumatic brain injury; pathophysiology; thalamus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Thalamus / pathology*