Subcortical shape and neuropsychological function among U.S. service members with mild traumatic brain injury

David F. Tate, Benjamin S.C. Wade, Carmen S. Velez, Ann Marie Drennon, Jacob D. Bolzenius, Douglas B. Cooper, Jan E. Kennedy, Matthew W. Reid, Amy O. Bowles, Paul M. Thompson, Boris A. Gutman, Jeffrey D. Lewis, John L. Ritter, Gerald E. York, Erin D. Bigler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In a recent manuscript, our group demonstrated shape differences in the thalamus, nucleus accumbens, and amygdala in a cohort of U.S. Service Members with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Given the significant role these structures play in cognitive function, this study directly examined the relationship between shape metrics and neuropsychological performance. The imaging and neuropsychological data from 135 post-deployed United States Service Members from two groups (mTBI and orthopedic injured) were examined. Two shape features modeling local deformations in thickness (RD) and surface area (JD) were defined vertex-wise on parametric mesh-representations of 7 bilateral subcortical gray matter structures. Linear regression was used to model associations between subcortical morphometry and neuropsychological performance as a function of either TBI status or, among TBI patients, subjective reporting of initial concussion severity (CS). Results demonstrated several significant group-by-cognition relationships with shape metrics across multiple cognitive domains including processing speed, memory, and executive function. Higher processing speed was robustly associated with more dilation of caudate surface area among patients with mTBI who reported more than one CS variables (loss of consciousness (LOC), alteration of consciousness (AOC), and/or post-traumatic amnesia (PTA)). These significant patterns indicate the importance of subcortical structures in cognitive performance and support a growing functional neuroanatomical literature in TBI and other neurologic disorders. However, prospective research will be required before exact directional evolution and progression of shape can be understood and utilized in predicting or tracking cognitive outcomes in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain behavior relationships
  • Mild traumatic brain Injury
  • Neuropsychological function
  • Service Members
  • Shape analysis
  • Subcortical structures


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