Neural correlates of self-evaluative accuracy after traumatic brain injury

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Individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) often exhibit an array of cognitive deficits, yet perhaps most maladaptive of these sequelae is the frequent occurrence of reduced insight into one's own condition. In such cases, TBI individuals may overestimate their post-injury level of socio-cognitive functioning, leading to disparities between how they perceive themselves and what others observe. This functional MRI (fMRI) investigation examined the relationship between level of insight into one's post-injury condition (i.e. trait/ability status) and neural activation evoked during an fMRI task involving self-appraisal of one's traits and abilities. Twenty TBI patients (8-12 weeks post-injury, ER Glasgow Coma Scale Average = 10.9 ± 2.8) were selected on the criterion that they overestimate their current trait/abilities (as detected on the patient competency rating scale, PCRS). fMRI activation on the self-appraisal task was compared between the TBI patients and 20 matched controls. For both groups, the fMRI task evoked activation at mid-line prefrontal and retrosplenial cortices. TBI patients exhibited greater signal change in the anterior cingulate, precuneus and right temporal pole. Subsequently, a linear regression analysis was conducted for the TBI group, with the PCRS and a measure of cognitive speed entered as predictor variables to determine the selective effect of insight on self-evaluative brain activation. A more accurate level of trait/ability-based insight was related to increased signal change in the right anterior dorsal prefrontal cortex (PFC). The results suggest that one's post-injury level of self-referential insight is related to a network inclusive of the medial and right dorsal PFC. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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