Research Topic

Investigating Brain Activity After Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury: Applications of Functional MRI

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Every year, the lives of millions of people are affected by traumatic (TBI) or acquired brain injury (ABI). The search for treatments and interventions that aid in TBI and ABI after-effects should be the priority in modern clinical research. In recent decades there has been great progress in functional ...

Every year, the lives of millions of people are affected by traumatic (TBI) or acquired brain injury (ABI). The search for treatments and interventions that aid in TBI and ABI after-effects should be the priority in modern clinical research. In recent decades there has been great progress in functional neuroimaging techniques and analysis methods. However, a disconnect between functional neuroimaging findings and their application to clinical settings remains. Examining the mechanism of brain injury can greatly advance our knowledge of the consequences and functional outcomes of ABI and TBI. Further, it can help characterize the nature of cognitive deficits after brain injury. More importantly, understanding how the functioning of the brain changes after ABI and TBI has the potential to promote development of targeted and effective interventions.
There are methodological barriers that might explain why functional neuroimaging has not received sufficient attention in these patient groups.

Functional neuroimaging in brain injury presents substantial challenges to researchers. Both patient populations are diverse in terms of brain anatomy and lesion locations. Selecting the appropriate control group and control condition can be challenging. The most significant challenge is accurate measurement and interpretation of signal in the damaged brain, because it is not well known how the blood flow to non-damaged areas is affected by the lesion. The main goal in this area of study is to disentangle blood flow effects due to meaningful brain activity and those due to lesion. Alternative methods of imaging, such as perfusion weighted imaging using ASL (arterial spin labeling) are only now beginning to be explored.

Despite the above challenges, functional neuroimaging is still a fruitful and promising area of investigation in TBI and ABI with substantial knowledge and insight into the mechanisms of brain injury remaining to be gained. The ultimate goals of functional neuroimaging in TBI and ABI are in line with the need for solution-oriented research in today's society. This under-studied area bridges human neuroscience and neurology.

In this Research Topic, we present a collection of original research and review articles focused on functional neuroimaging in TBI and ABI, including task-based functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), resting state MRI, ASL, PET, etc. The assembled articles address 1) how the challenges of working with lesioned brain can be overcome, 2) how findings on cognitive function after ABI and TBI can be linked with brain mechanisms, and 3) how findings about brain mechanisms can be applied to improving quality of care and rehabilitation strategies.


Keywords: functional magnetic resonance imaging, traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury


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