Dynamic phase-locking states and personality in sub-acute mild traumatic brain injury: An exploratory study

Harm J van der Horn*, Myrthe E de Koning, Koen Visser, Marius G J Kok, Jacoba M Spikman, Myrthe E Scheenen, Remco J Renken, Vince D Calhoun, Victor M Vergara, Joana Cabral, Andrew R Mayer, Joukje van der Naalt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research has shown that maladaptive personality characteristics, such as Neuroticism, are associated with poor outcome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The current exploratory study investigated the neural underpinnings of this process using dynamic functional network connectivity (dFNC) analyses of resting-state (rs) fMRI, and diffusion MRI (dMRI). Twenty-seven mTBI patients and 21 healthy controls (HC) were included. After measuring the Big Five personality dimensions, principal component analysis (PCA) was used to obtain a superordinate factor representing emotional instability, consisting of high Neuroticism, moderate Openness, and low Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Persistent symptoms were measured using the head injury symptom checklist at six months post-injury; symptom severity (i.e., sum of all items) was used for further analyses. For patients, brain MRI was performed in the sub-acute phase (~1 month) post-injury. Following parcellation of rs-fMRI using independent component analysis, leading eigenvector dynamic analysis (LEiDA) was performed to compute dynamic phase-locking brain states. Main patterns of brain diffusion were computed using tract-based spatial statistics followed by PCA. No differences in phase-locking state measures were found between patients and HC. Regarding dMRI, a trend significant decrease in fractional anisotropy was found in patients relative to HC, particularly in the fornix, genu of the corpus callosum, anterior and posterior corona radiata. Visiting one specific phase-locking state was associated with lower symptom severity after mTBI. This state was characterized by two clearly delineated communities (each community consisting of areas with synchronized phases): one representing an executive/saliency system, with a strong contribution of the insulae and basal ganglia; the other representing the canonical default mode network. In patients who scored high on emotional instability, this relationship was even more pronounced. Dynamic phase-locking states were not related to findings on dMRI. Altogether, our results provide preliminary evidence for the coupling between personality and dFNC in the development of long-term symptoms after mTBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0295984
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15-Dec-2023


  • Humans
  • Brain Concussion/diagnostic imaging
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Brain Mapping
  • Personality


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