26 April 2018
Concussion is a common form of mild traumatic brain injury. Despite the descriptor “mild,” a single injury can leave long-lasting and sustained alterations to brain function, including changes to localized activity and large-scale interregional communication. Cognitive complaints are thought to arise from such functional deficits. We investigated the impact of injury on neurophysiological and functionally specialized resting networks, known as intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs), using magnetoencephalography. We assessed neurophysiological connectivity in 40 males, 20 with concussion and 20 without. Regions-of-interest that comprise nodes of ICNs were defined, and their time courses derived using a beamformer approach. Pairwise fluctuations and covariations in band-limited amplitude envelopes were computed reflecting measures of functional connectivity. Intra-network connectivity was compared between groups using permutation testing and correlated with symptoms. We observed increased resting spectral connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) and motor networks (MOTs) in our concussion group when compared with controls, across alpha through gamma ranges. Moreover, these differences were not explained by power spectrum density within the ICNs. Furthermore, this increased coupling was significantly associated with symptoms in the DMN and MOTs—but once accounting for comorbidities (including, depression, anxiety, and ADHD) only the DMN continued to be associated with symptoms. The DMN plays a critical role in shifting between cognitive tasks. These data suggest even a single concussion can perturb the intrinsic coupling of this functionally specialized network in the brain, and may explain persistent and wide-ranging symptomatology.