Front Neuroimaging. 2023 Mar 8;2:1129446. doi: 10.3389/fnimg.2023.1129446. eCollection 2023.
INTRODUCTION: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the highest public health priorities, especially among military personnel where comorbidity with post-traumatic stress symptoms and resulting consequences is high. Brain injury and post-traumatic stress symptoms are both characterized by dysfunctional brain networks, with the amygdala specifically implicated as a region with both structural and functional abnormalities.
METHODS: This study examined the structural volumetrics and resting state functional connectivity of 68 Active Duty Service Members with or without chronic mild TBI (mTBI) and comorbid symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Structural analysis of the amygdala revealed no significant differences in volume between mTBI and healthy comparison participants with and without post-traumatic stress symptoms. Resting state functional connectivity with bilateral amygdala revealed decreased anterior network connectivity and increased posterior network connectivity in the mTBI group compared to the healthy comparison group. Within the mTBI group, there were significant regions of correlation with amygdala that were modulated by PTS severity, including networks implicated in emotional processing and executive functioning. An examination of a priori regions of amygdala connectivity in the default mode network, task positive network, and subcortical structures showed interacting influences of TBI and PTS, only between right amygdala and right putamen. These results suggest that mTBI and PTS are associated with hypo-frontal and hyper-posterior amygdala connectivity. Additionally, comorbidity of these conditions appears to compound these neural activity patterns. PTS in mTBI may change neural resource recruitment for information processing between the amygdala and other brain regions and networks, not only during emotional processing, but also at rest.