Neuroimaging Correlates of Syndromal Anxiety Following Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

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BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can precipitate new-onset psychiatric symptoms or worsen existing psychiatric conditions. To elucidate specific mechanisms for this interaction, neuroimaging is often used to study both psychiatric conditions and TBI. This systematic review aims to synthesize the existing literature of neuroimaging findings among patients with anxiety after TBI.

METHODS: We conducted a Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses-compliant literature search via PubMed (MEDLINE), PsychINFO, EMBASE, and Scopus databases before May, 2019. We included studies that clearly defined TBI, measured syndromal anxiety as a primary outcome, and statistically analyzed the relationship between neuroimaging findings and anxiety symptoms.

RESULTS: A total of 5982 articles were retrieved from the systematic search, of which 65 studied anxiety and 13 met eligibility criteria. These studies were published between 2004 and 2017, collectively analyzing 764 participants comprised of 470 patients with TBI and 294 non-TBI controls. Imaging modalities used included magnetic resonance imaging, functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, electroencephalogram, magnetic resonance spectrometry, and magnetoencephalography. Eight of 13 studies presented at least one significant finding and together reflect a complex set of changes that lead to anxiety in the setting of TBI. The left cingulate gyrus in particular was found to be significant in 2 studies using different imaging modalities. Two studies also revealed perturbances in functional connectivity within the default mode network.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first systemic review of neuroimaging changes associated with anxiety after TBI, which implicated multiple brain structures and circuits, such as the default mode network. Future research with consistent, rigorous measurements of TBI and syndromal anxiety, as well as attention to control groups, previous TBIs, and time interval between TBI and neuroimaging, are warranted. By understanding neuroimaging correlates of psychiatric symptoms, this work could inform future post-TBI screening and surveillance, preventative efforts, and early interventions to improve neuropsychiatric outcomes.





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Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry




Department of Psychiatry

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