Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI)-induced attention deficits are among the most common long-term cognitive consequences in children. Most of the existing studies attempting to understand the neuropathological underpinnings of cognitive and behavioral impairments in TBI have utilized heterogeneous samples and resulted in inconsistent findings. The current research proposed to investigate topological properties of the structural brain network in children with TBI and their relationship with post-TBI attention problems in a more homogeneous subgroup of children who had severe post-TBI attention deficits (TBI-A). Materials and Methods: A total of 31 children with TBI-A and 35 group-matched controls were involved in the study. Diffusion tensor imaging-based probabilistic tractography and graph theoretical techniques were used to construct the structural brain network in each subject. Network topological properties were calculated in both global level and regional (nodal) level. Between-group comparisons among the topological network measures and analyses for searching brain-behavioral were all corrected for multiple comparisons using Bonferroni method. Results: Compared with controls, the TBI-A group showed significantly higher nodal local efficiency and nodal clustering coefficient in left inferior frontal gyrus and right transverse temporal gyrus, whereas significantly lower nodal clustering coefficient in left supramarginal gyrus and lower nodal local efficiency in left parahippocampal gyrus. The temporal lobe topological alterations were significantly associated with the post-TBI inattentive and hyperactive symptoms in the TBI-A group. Conclusion: The results suggest that TBI-related structural re-modularity in the white matter subnetworks associated with temporal lobe may play a critical role in the onset of severe post-TBI attention deficits in children. These findings provide valuable input for understanding the neurobiological substrates of post-TBI attention deficits, and have the potential to serve as quantitatively measurable criteria guiding the development of more timely and tailored strategies for diagnoses and treatments to the affected individuals. This study provides a new insight into the neurobiological substrates associated with post-traumatic brain injury attention deficits (TBI-A) in children, by evaluating topological alterations of the structural brain network. The results demonstrated that relative to group-matched controls, the children with TBI-A had significantly altered nodal local efficiency and nodal clustering coefficient in temporal lobe, which strongly linked to elevated inattentive and hyperactive symptoms in the TBI-A group. These findings suggested that white matter structural re-modularity in subnetworks associated with temporal lobe may serve as quantitatively measurable biomarkers for early prediction and diagnosis of post-TBI attention deficits in children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- attention deficits
- diffusion tensor imaging
- graph theory
- traumatic brain injury