Gray matter volume and executive functioning correlate with time since injury following mild traumatic brain injury

William D.S. Killgore, Prabhjyot Singh, Maia Kipman, Derek Pisner, Andrew Fridman, Mareen Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Most people who sustain a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) will recover to baseline functioning within a period of several days to weeks. A substantial minority of patients, however, will show persistent symptoms and mild cognitive complaints for much longer. To more clearly delineate how the duration of time since injury (TSI) is associated with neuroplastic cortical volume changes and cognitive recovery, we employed voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and select neuropsychological measures in a cross-sectional sample of 26 patients with mTBI assessed at either two-weeks, one-month, three-months, six-months, or one-year post injury, and a sample of 12 healthy controls. Longer duration of TSI was associated with larger gray matter volume (GMV) within the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and right fusiform gyrus, and better neurocognitive performance on measures of visuospatial design fluency and emotional functioning. In particular, volume within the vmPFC was positively correlated with design fluency and negatively correlated with symptoms of anxiety, whereas GMV of the fusiform gyrus was associated with greater design fluency and sustained visual psychomotor vigilance performance. Moreover, the larger GMV seen among the more chronic individuals was significantly greater than healthy controls, suggesting possible enlargement of these regions with time since injury. These findings are interpreted in light of burgeoning evidence suggesting that cortical regions often exhibit structural changes following experience or practice, and suggest that with greater time since an mTBI, the brain displays compensatory remodeling of cortical regions involved in emotional regulation, which may reduce distractibility during attention demanding visuo-motor tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Jan 26 2016


  • Concussion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Gray matter
  • MTBI
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Motor speed
  • Psychomotor vigilance
  • SPM8
  • VBM
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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