Comparison of functional network integrity in TBI and orthopedic controlpatientsusing graph-theoretical analysis.
The integrity of functional brain networks inpatients (n=12) diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) was compared to age-matched subjects (n=12) with orthopedic injury (OI) during a working memory task. A graph-theoretical analysis algorithm was developed and integrated into the AFNI software. Functional networks with correlations between time courses as edge-weights were automatically created and their integrity was quantified by determining the statistical significance of the following network parameters: diameter, density, clustering coefficient, average path length, two largest eigenvalues, spectral density, and minimum eccentricity. Network graphs using a spring-embedded layout (Cytoscape) and a 3D layout integrated into the anatomical space (Paraview) were created. Functional images were composed by color-coding the degree of each voxel (network node) and transformed into Talairach space. Using the AFNI Talairach atlas, degrees of distinct brain regions were quantified. Reduced averaged BOLD responses were found for the TBI group with a higher network integrity potentially as a compensatory mechanism. Regions of high functional connectivity varied in between groups with largest differences in the cerebellum, the temporal lobes and deep brain structures including the lentiform nucleus, caudate and thalamus.