The impact of frontal lesions after mild to moderate traumatic brain injury on frontal network measures

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To investigate the impact of frontal macro-structural lesions on intrinsic network measures, we examined brain network function during resting-state fMRI in patients with frontal lesions in the subacute phase after mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Additionally, network function was related to neuropsychological performances. 17 patients with frontal lesions, identified on admission CT after mild to moderate trauma, were compared to 30 traumatic brain injury patients without frontal lesions and 20 healthy controls. Three months post-injury, we acquired fMRI scans and neuropsychological assessments (measuring frontal executive functions and information processing speed). Using independent component analysis, the activity of and connectivity between network components (largely located in the prefrontal cortex) and relations with neuropsychological measures were examined and compared across groups. The analysis yielded five predominantly frontal components: anterior and posterior part of the default mode network, left and right frontoparietal network and salience network. No significant differences concerning fMRI measures were found across groups. However, the frontal lesions group performed significantly worse on neuropsychological tests than the other two groups. Additionally, the frontal lesions group showed a significant positive association of stronger default mode network–salience network connectivity with better executive performances. Our findings suggest that, on fMRI level, frontal network measures are not largely affected by frontal lesions following a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Yet, patients with damage to the frontal structures did show poorer executive abilities which might to some degree be related to altered frontal network connectivity between the default mode network and salience network.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0287832
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30-Nov-2023


  • Humans
  • Nerve Net
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic/pathology
  • Prefrontal Cortex/diagnostic imaging
  • Executive Function
  • Cognition
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain


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