Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2023 Oct 8:acad067.173. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acad067.173. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: The mechanisms for traumatic brain injury (TBI) being a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is unclear, and whether mild TBI (mTBI) may relate to decreased neural circuit functioning in the prodromal phase is unknown. This study examined whether a history of mTBI was associated with lower functioning of neural circuits, measured with neuropsychological tasks, in amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI).
METHOD: Twenty older adults (MAge = 71 years; 70% Male; 90% White) with aMCI were recruited to complete a detailed TBI interview and were classified based on the presence (mTBI+ n = 13) or absence (mTBI- n = 7) of past mTBI. Most mTBI+ participants (n = 11) had multiple mTBIs, and on average were 32 years from last injury. A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment was administered, and composite T-scores were calculated for the domains of attention, executive functioning, memory, and language. One-tailed T-tests were conducted to compare the means between groups.
RESULTS: No statistically significant differences (p’s = 0.06-0.09) were found between the groups in memory (mTBI+ M = 38.11; mTBI- M = 33.19), executive function (mTBI+ M = 48.79; mTBI- M = 43.09), language (mTBI+ M = 48.12; mTBI- M = 43.09), or attention (mTBI+ M = 40.54; mTBI- M = 35.57). Nonetheless, medium effect sizes were seen for the mTBI+ group performing better than the mTBI- group on all composite scores (Cohen’s d = 0.45-0.66).
CONCLUSIONS: A history of mTBI was not associated with poorer neuropsychological performance in aMCI, often a prodromal stage of Alzheimer’s disease. While concerns about later-in-life effects from multiple mTBIs is prevalent, repetitive mTBI may not be related to lower neural circuit functioning in aMCI, though further evaluation with larger samples is needed.