A new study from the University of Adelaide in Australia found that in the medium- to long-term pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI), the fractional anisotropy (FA) values for numerous large white matter tracks in comparison to the whole brain were related to cognition. This study, published online in Developmental Neuropsychology, specifically examined the relationship between diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) findings and cognition following pediatric traumatic brain injury.

The authors conducted a comprehensive search of the literature in order to identify research that examined the relationship between DTI measures of white matter integrity and cognitive functioning in children and/or adolescent who had sustained a traumatic brain injury. According to the study, the first 4 weeks (or short-term) after a TBI, the findings weren’t consistent and both positive and negative relationships were reported between FA and cognitive function. This was in contrary to their prediction, as the findings showed a strong positive relationship between FA in the corpus callosum (or body) and concept formation. This finding contrasted with the large negative relationship between FA in both the cerebral peduncle and internal capsule and executive function.

The authors could not find a clear reason why the “direction of these relationships differ,” but they did postulate that “it may be related to the fact that the contributing study (Mayer et al., 2012) examined children with mild TBIs 2 weeks post-injury; at which time there may be some early resolution of cognitive and physiological changes (Hung et al., 2014).”

This postulation was consistent with the finding by the same aforementioned study, which reported that TBI and healthy controls performed comparably in those cognitive domains.

If you or a loved one were injured and suffered from a traumatic brain injury, it is strongly encouraged that you seek experienced counsel immediately.