Journal of Neurotrauma vol:32 issue:20 pages:1567-1578
Mathematical difficulties have been documented following pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), yet a precise characterization of these impairments and their neural correlates is currently unavailable. We aimed to characterize these impairments by comparing behavioral and neuroimaging (i.e. diffusion tensor imaging or DTI) outcomes from children with subacute mTBI to typically developing controls. Twenty subacute pediatric mTBI patients and 20 well-matched controls underwent cognitive assessment and DTI examination. DTI tractography was used to detect white matter abnormalities in the corpus callosum (CC) and superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi; these tracts are involved in mathematical performance and they are often damaged after mTBI. Behavioral results revealed that children with mTBI performed significantly more poorly on rapid apprehension of small numbers of objects (or ‘subitizing’), processing of non-symbolic numerosities and procedural problem solving. These group differences were explained by differences in visuospatial working memory, which suggests that the observed mathematical difficulties may be a consequence of impairments in visuospatial abilities. DTI analysis revealed subtle group differences in the CC genu and splenium, i.e. higher fractional anisotropy and lower mean and radial diffusivity in children with mTBI, but the observed white matter abnormalities of the CC were not significantly associated with the observed mathematical difficulties in the mTBI patients.