The Less BOLD, the Wiser: Support for the latent resource hypothesis after traumatic brain injury

John D. Medaglia, Kathy S. Chiou, Julia Slocomb, Neal M. Fitzpatrick, Britney M. Wardecker, Deepa Ramanathan, Jeffrey Vesek, David C. Good, Frank G. Hillary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Previous studies of the BOLD response in the injured brain have revealed neural recruitment relative to controls during working memory tasks in several brain regions, most consistently the right prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortices. We previously proposed that the recruitment observed in this literature represents auxiliary support resources, and that recruitment of PFC is not abnormal or injury specific and should reduce as novelty and challenge decrease. The current study directly tests this hypothesis in the context of practice of a working memory task. It was hypothesized that individuals with brain injury would demonstrate recruitment of previously indicated regions, behavioral improvement following task practice, and a reduction in the BOLD signal in recruited regions after practice. Individuals with traumatic brain injury and healthy controls performed the n-back during fMRI acquisition, practiced each task out of the scanner, and returned to the scanner for additional fMRI n-back acquisition. Statistical parametric maps demonstrated a number of regions of recruitment in the 1-back in individuals with brain injury and a number of corresponding regions of reduced activation in individuals with brain injury following practice in both the 1-back and 2-back. Regions of interest demonstrated reduced activation following practice, including the anterior cingulate and right prefrontal cortices. Individuals with brain injury demonstrated modest behavioral improvements following practice. These findings suggest that neural recruitment in brain injury does not represent reorganization but a natural extension of latent mechanisms that engage transiently and are contingent upon cerebral challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-993
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive control
  • Functional MRI
  • Reorganization
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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