BACKGROUND: Alterations in resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) occur in the acute and chronic phases following traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, few studies have assessed long-term (>1 year) changes in rsFC.
METHODS: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) scans were obtained from the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research Informatics Systems. Patients with primarily mild TBI (n = 39) completed rsfMRI scans at the sub-acute (~10 days) and long-term (~18 months) phases. We examined changes in voxel-based rsFC from anterior medial prefrontal cortex (aMPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) seeds in the default mode network (DMN) between both phases. The effect of age at the time of injury on long-term rsFC was also examined.
RESULTS: Increased rsFC from the aMPFC and the PCC to frontal and temporal regions was shown at ~18-months post-injury. Widespread increases in rsFC from the aMPFC and between the PCC and frontal regions were shown for younger patients at time of injury, but limited increases of rsFC were noted at ~18 months in older patients.
CONCLUSION: Long-term increases in rsFC were found following TBI, but age at the time of injury was associated with distinct rsFC profiles suggesting that younger patients show greater increases in rsFC over time.