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Patients with traumatic brain injury show clear impairments in behavioural flexibility and inhibition that often persist beyond the time of injury, affecting independent living and psychosocial functioning. Functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that patients with traumatic brain injury typically show increased and more broadly dispersed frontal and parietal activity during performance of cognitive control tasks. We constructed binary and weighted functional networks and calculated their topological properties using a graph theoretical approach. Twenty-three adults with traumatic brain injury and 26 age-matched controls were instructed to switch between coordination modes while making spatially and temporally coupled circular motions with joysticks during event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results demonstrated that switching performance was significantly lower in patients with traumatic brain injury compared with control subjects. Furthermore, although brain networks of both groups exhibited economical small-world topology, altered functional connectivity was demonstrated in patients with traumatic brain injury. In particular, compared with controls, patients with traumatic brain injury showed increased connectivity degree and strength, and higher values of local efficiency, suggesting adaptive mechanisms in this group. Finally, the degree of increased connectivity was significantly correlated with poorer switching task performance and more severe brain injury. We conclude that analysing the functional brain network connectivity provides new insights into understanding cognitive control changes following brain injury.

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Journal Article

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