Association between Diffusion Tensor Imaging Findings and Cognitive Outcomes Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A PRISMA-Compliant Meta-Analysis

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2019 Dec 18;10(12):4864-4869. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00584. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Previous diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) research in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) patients only concentrated on a limited number of brain regions and a specific cognitive function. Thus, the study aimed to explore the association between DTI findings and cognitive function following mTBI using a meta-analysis. We conducted a search for articles exploring the associations between DTI findings and cognitive outcomes following mTBI published in English in databases (PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, Medline, and Google Scholar) before October 2019. The correlations were computed to explore associations between DTI findings and specific cognitive function. Finally, 9 studies (including 293 mTBI patients) were included in the meta-analysis. The study showed that higher fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the longitudinal fasciculus (LF), sagittal stratum (SS), cerebellum, and internal capsule (IC) were associated with better general cognitive function. However, the study showed that higher FA values in the cerebellar peduncles (CP) were associated with worse general cognitive function. Additionally, the present study showed that higher FA values in the mesencephalon, anterior corona radiata (ACR), forceps major (FM), uncinate fasciculus (UF), cingulum, and genu of corpus callosum (gCC) were related to better memory. Higher FA values in the ACR were associated with worse attention, processing speed, and working memory. The study indicated that higher mean diffusivity (MD)/apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values in the external capsule (EC) were associated with worse memory. Additionally, higher MD/ADC values in the UF were associated with worse attention, processing speed, and working memory. The present study showed that better white matter integrity (higher FA, lower MD/ADC) might be associated with better cognitive function following mTBI.

Keywords: Diffusion tensor imaging; meta-analysis; mild traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Attention
  • Brain Concussion / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Concussion / pathology
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Brain Concussion / therapy
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / etiology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / pathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / pathology
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome