A new study published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation suggests the cerebral activity in the brain changes significantly following memory retraining in individuals with traumatic brain injury.
The TBI-MEM trial, conducted by researchers from the Kessler Foundation, is the first to show that a common treatment to help individuals with TBI manage symptoms that affect memory can also have an observable impact on cerebral activation.
For the study, eighteen participants with moderate to severe TBI were assigned to either receive memory retraining or a placebo treatment. All participants underwent a thorough neurological assessment, cognitive ability assessment, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a learning task before and after treatment.
The group that received treatment was given the modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT), a 10-session memory retraining protocol based on visualization and context, while the placebo group was administered memory exercises without vocalization or context training. According to the report, the fMRI scans showed a discernable pattern of changes in cerebral activation in the mSMT group that was not seen in the control group.
The findings are consistent with previous research by the scientists in patients with MS, which provided the first Class I evidence for the efficacy of cognitive rehabilitation in MS.
“This is the second study we have conducted that shows significant changes in activation patterns on neuroimaging after behavioral memory intervention,” said Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuroscience & Neuropsychology and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Research at Kessler Foundation. “These changes likely reflect increased brain efficiency and decreased task difficulty after training with mSMT. Memory deficits are a major cause of disability after TBI. Identifying effective cognitive interventions is critical to improving quality of life in this population.”