Sex Difference Regarding White Matter Integrity Influencing Cognitive Function Post-TBI
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Peter Andrew Arnett, Thesis Supervisor Frank Gerard Hillary, Honors Advisor
White matter Traumatic Brain Injury Sex Difference Cognitive Function
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions of Americans each year. TBI leads to many short and long term consequences, with moderate to severe often resulting in lasting cognitive impairment. The role of white matter (WM) integrity measured by fractional anisotropy (FA) is an important aspect when determining the severity of cognitive deficits post-TBI. Past studies have noted that WM structure is largely variable based on sex. Given this background, WM integrity could have differential impact on cognitive performance based on sex. After analysis, it was found that the TBI group had lower mean FA values than the HC group. However, when separating by sex, there was no significant difference between male and female FA values for either TBI or HC group. FA was significantly correlated with every neuropsychological assessment administered, however the effect sizes for different facets of cognition varied. FA had the smallest effect size for measures of memory and the largest effect sizes for measures of processing speed and sustained attention. In the future, FA values may be used as useful tools to determine the extent to which an individual with TBI is impacted by deficits in specific areas of cognition.