Thalamic resting-state functional networks: Disruption in patients with mild traumatic brain injury

Lin Tang, Yulin Ge, Daniel K. Sodickson, Laura Miles, Yongxia Zhou, Joseph Reaume, Robert I. Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To explore the neural correlates of the thalamus by using resting-state functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and to investigate whether thalamic resting-state networks (RSNs) are disrupted in patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Materials and Methods: This HIPAA-compliant study was approved by the institutional review board, and written informed consent was obtained from 24 patients with MTBI and 17 healthy control subjects. The patients had varying degrees of symptoms, with a mean disease duration of 22 days. The restingstate functional MR imaging data were analyzed by using a standard seed-based whole-brain correlation method to characterize thalamic RSNs. Student t tests were used to perform comparisons. The association between thalamic RSNs and performance on neuropsychologic and neurobehavioral measures was also investigated in patients with MTBI by using Spearman rank correlation. Results: A normal pattern of thalamic RSNs was demonstrated in healthy subjects. This pattern was characterized as representing relatively symmetric and restrictive functional thalamocortical connectivity, suggesting an inhibitory property of the thalamic neurons during the resting state. This pattern was disrupted, with significantly increased thalamic RSNs(P ≤ .005) and decreased symmetry(P = .03) in patients with MTBI compared with healthy control subjects. Increased functional thalamocortical redistributive connectivity was correlated with diminished neurocognitive functions and clinical symptoms in patients with MTBI. Conclusion: These findings of abnormal thalamic RSNs lend further support to the presumed subtle thalamic injury in patients with MTBI. Resting-state functional MR imaging can be used as an additional imaging modality for detection of thalamocortical connectivity abnormalities and for better understanding of the complex persistent postconcussive syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-840
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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