Theta-Band Oscillations as an Indicator of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Hanna Kaltiainen*, Liisa Helle, Mia Liljeström, Hanna Renvall, Nina Forss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) patients continue to pose a diagnostic challenge due to their diverse symptoms without trauma-specific changes in structural imaging. We addressed here the possible early changes in spontaneous oscillatory brain activity after mTBI, and their feasibility as an indicator of injury in clinical evaluation. We recorded resting-state magnetoencephalography (MEG) data in both eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions from 26 patients (11 females and 15 males, aged 20–59) with mTBI 6 days–6 months after the injury, and compared their spontaneous oscillatory activity to corresponding data from 139 healthy controls. Twelve of the patients underwent a follow-up measurement at 6 months. Ten of all patients were without structural lesions in MRI. At single-subject level, aberrant 4–7 Hz (theta) band activity exceeding the + 2 SD limit of the healthy subjects was visible in 7 out of 26 patients; three out of the seven patients with abnormal theta activity were without any detectable lesions in MRI. Of the patients that participated in the follow-up measurements, five showed abnormal theta activity in the first recording, but only two in the second measurement. Our results suggest that aberrant theta-band oscillatory activity can provide an early objective sign of brain dysfunction after mTBI. In 3/7 patients, the slow-wave activity was transient and visible only in the first recording, urging prompt timing for the measurements in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1046
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Low frequency activity
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Oscillations
  • Repeated measurements
  • Resting-state
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)


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