Changes in functional brain networks following sports-related concussion in adolescents

J Neurotrauma -


Virji-Babul, N., C. G. Hilderman, N. Makan, A. Liu, J. Smith-Forrester, C. Franks and Z. J. Wang.



Sports-related concussion is a major public health issue; however, little is known about the underlying changes in functional brain networks in adolescents following injury. Our aim was to use the tools from graph theory to evaluate the changes in brain network properties following concussion in adolescent athletes. We recorded resting state electroencephalography (EEG) in 33 healthy adolescent athletes and 9 adolescent athletes with a clinical diagnosis of subacute concussion. Graph theory analysis was applied to these data to evaluate changes in brain networks. Global and local metrics of the structural properties of the graph were calculated for each group and correlated with Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) scores. Brain networks of both groups showed small-world topology with no statistically significant differences in the global metrics; however, significant differences were found in the local metrics. Specifically, in the concussed group, we noted: 1) increased values of betweenness and degree in frontal electrode sites corresponding to the (R) dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the (R) inferior frontal gyrus and 2) decreased values of degree in the region corresponding to the (R) frontopolar prefrontal cortex. In addition, there was significant negative correlation between degree and hub value, with total symptom score at the electrode site corresponding to the (R) prefrontal cortex. This preliminary report in adolescent athletes shows for the first time that resting-state EEG combined with graph theoretical analysis may provide an objective method of evaluating changes in brain networks following concussion. This approach may be useful in identifying individuals at risk for future injury.

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