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Study finds training-induced neuroplasticity even in patients with chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Images show pre­frontal con­nec­tiv­i­ty pat­terns after cog­ni­tive train­ing in indi­vid­u­als who suf­fered trau­mat­ic brain injury. Kih­wan Han et al (2018)

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Cog­ni­tive train­ing reduces depres­sion, rebuilds injured brain struc­ture & con­nec­tiv­i­ty after trau­mat­ic brain injury (UT-Dal­las release):

New research from the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las shows that cer­tain cog­ni­tive train­ing exer­cis­es can help reduce depres­sion and improve brain health in indi­vid­u­als years after they have suf­fered a trau­mat­ic brain injury (TBI).

The recent study…revealed sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions in the sever­i­ty of depres­sive symp­toms, increased abil­i­ty to reg­u­late emo­tions, increas­es in cor­ti­cal thick­ness and recov­ery from abnor­mal neur­al net­work con­nec­tiv­i­ty after cog­ni­tive train­ing.

To our knowl­edge, this is the first study to report brain change asso­ci­at­ed with reduced depres­sion symp­toms after cog­ni­tive train­ing,” said Dr. Kih­wan Han, a research sci­en­tist at the Cen­ter for Brain­Health who works in the lab of Dr. Daniel Kraw­czyk. Han is the lead author of the study… “Iden­ti­fy­ing what changes are hap­pen­ing in the brain when inter­ven­tions suc­cess­ful­ly reduce depres­sive symp­toms could allow us to cre­ate more effec­tive, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal-free approach­es to help alle­vi­ate depres­sion in peo­ple who expe­ri­ence chron­ic trau­mat­ic brain injury symp­toms,” said study author Dr. San­dra Bond Chap­man, founder and chief direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Brain­Health.

The Study:

Strat­e­gy-based rea­son­ing train­ing mod­u­lates cor­ti­cal thick­ness and resting?state func­tion­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty in adults with chron­ic trau­mat­ic brain injury (Brain and Behav­ior). From the abstract:

  • Intro­duc­tion: Pri­or stud­ies have demon­strat­ed training?induced changes in the healthy adult brain. Yet, it remains unclear how the injured brain responds to cog­ni­tive train­ing months?to?years after injury.
  • Meth­ods: Six­ty indi­vid­u­als with chron­ic trau­mat­ic brain injury (TBI) were ran­dom­ized into either strategy?based (N = 31) or knowledge?based (N = 29) train­ing for 8 weeks. We mea­sured cor­ti­cal thick­ness and resting?state func­tion­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty (rsFC) before train­ing, imme­di­ate­ly post­train­ing, and 3 months post­train­ing.
  • Results: Rel­a­tive to the knowledge?based train­ing group, the cor­ti­cal thick­ness of the strategy?based train­ing group showed diverse tem­po­ral pat­terns of changes over mul­ti­ple brain regions … Analy­ses of brain–behavior rela­tion­ships revealed that improve­ment in trail?making scores were asso­ci­at­ed with training?induced changes in cor­ti­cal thick­ness with­in the strategy?based train­ing group.
  • Con­clu­sions: These find­ings sug­gest that training?induced brain plas­tic­i­ty con­tin­ues through chron­ic phas­es of TBI and that brain con­nec­tiv­i­ty and cor­ti­cal thick­ness may serve as mark­ers of plas­tic­i­ty.

The Study in Context:

 

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