Fractal dimension brain morphometry: a novel approach to quantify white matter in traumatic brain injury

Venkateswaran Rajagopalan, Abhijit Das, Luduan Zhang, Frank Hillary, Glenn R. Wylie, Guang H. Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the main cause of disability in people younger than 35 in the United States. The mechanisms of TBI are complex resulting in both focal and diffuse brain damage. Fractal dimension (FD) is a measure that can characterize morphometric complexity and variability of brain structure especially white matter (WM) structure and may provide novel insights into the injuries evident following TBI. FD-based brain morphometry may provide information on WM structural changes after TBI that is more sensitive to subtle structural changes post injury compared to conventional MRI measurements. Anatomical and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data were obtained using a 3 T MRI scanner in subjects with moderate to severe TBI and in healthy controls (HC). Whole brain WM volume, grey matter volume, cortical thickness, cortical area, FD and DTI metrics were evaluated globally and for the left and right hemispheres separately. A neuropsychological test battery sensitive to cognitive impairment associated with traumatic brain injury was performed. TBI group showed lower structural complexity (FD) bilaterally (p < 0.05). No significant difference in either grey matter volume, cortical thickness or cortical area was observed in any of the brain regions between TBI and healthy controls. No significant differences in whole brain WM volume or DTI metrics between TBI and HC groups were observed. Behavioral data analysis revealed that WM FD accounted for a significant amount of variance in executive functioning and processing speed beyond demographic and DTI variables. FD therefore, may serve as a sensitive marker of injury and may play a role in outcome prediction in TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-924
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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