Dedifferentiation does not account for hyperconnectivity after traumatic brain injury

Rachel Anne Bernier, Arnab Roy, Umesh Meyyappan Venkatesan, Emily C. Grossner, Einat K. Brenner, Frank Gerard Hillary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Changes in functional network connectivity following traumatic brain injury (TBI) have received increasing attention in recent neuroimaging literature. This study sought to understand how disrupted systems adapt to injury during resting and goal-directed brain states. Hyperconnectivity has been a common finding, and dedifferentiation (or loss of segregation of networks) is one possible explanation for this finding. We hypothesized that individuals with TBI would show dedifferentiation of networks (as noted in other clinical populations) and these effects would be associated with cognitive dysfunction. Methods: Graph theory was implemented to examine functional connectivity during periods of task and rest in 19 individuals with moderate/severe TBI and 14 healthy controls (HCs). Using a functional brain atlas derived from 83 functional imaging studies, graph theory was used to examine network dynamics and determine whether dedifferentiation accounts for changes in connectivity. Regions of interest were assigned to one of three groups: task-positive, default mode, or other networks. Relationships between these metrics were then compared with performance on neuropsychological tests. Results: Hyperconnectivity in TBI was most commonly observed as increased within-network connectivity. Network strengths within networks that showed differences between TBI and HCs were correlated with performance on five neuropsychological tests typically sensitive to deficits commonly reported in TBI. Hyperconnectivity within the default mode network (DMN) during task was associated with better performance on Digit Span Backward, a measure of working memory [R2(18) = 0.28, p = 0.02]. In other words, increased differentiation of networks during task was associated with better working memory. Hyperconnectivity within the task-positive network during rest was not associated with behavior. Negative correlation weights were not associated with behavior. Conclusion: The primary hypothesis that hyperconnectivity occurs through increased segregation of networks, rather than dedifferentiation, was not supported. Instead, enhanced connectivity post injury was observed within network. Results suggest that the relationship between increased connectivity and cognitive functioning may be both state (rest or task) and network dependent. High-cost network hubs were identical for both rest and task, and cost was negatively associated with performance on measures of psychomotor speed and set-shifting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number297
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 17 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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