Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in women experiencing intimate-partner violence (IPV) is common, and IPV afflicts 30 % of women worldwide. However, the neurobiology and related sequelae of these TBIs have never been systematically examined. Consequently, TBI treatments are typically absent and IPV interventions are inadequate. There has been a call for a comprehensive assessment of IPV-related TBIs and their relationship to aspects of women’s cognitive and neural functioning. In response, we examined brain-network organization associated with TBI and its cognitive effects using clinical interviews and neuropsychological measures as well as structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in women experiencing IPV-related TBI. We hypothesized that TBI severity would be related to poorer cognitive performance and be associated with structural and functional connectivity between cognitive networks previously implicated in other TBI populations. As predicted, severity of TBI was negatively associated with inter-network intrinsic functional connectivity indicative of TBI, between the right anterior insula and posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus (FLAME1 + 2; family-wise error-corrected Z > 2.3, cluster- based p < 0.05). This association remained significant when controlling for partner-abuse severity, age, head motion, childhood trauma and psychopathology. Additionally, intrinsic functional connectivity between the same regions correlated positively with cognitive performance on indices of memory and learning. These data provide the first mechanistic evidence of TBI and its association with cognitive functioning in women sustaining IPV-related TBI. These data underscore the need to address and consider the role TBI may be playing in the efficacy of IPV interventions ranging from emergency first responder interactions to specific treatment plans.
Brain Imaging and Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 20, 2016
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