Headshot of Frank Hillary with black hair, glasses, white and tan checkered shirt, and tan jacket.
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Einat Brenner, a graduate student in clinical psychology, Dr. Frank Hillary, and their collaborators have recently published work on diminished neural network dynamics in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. In this paper, they use dynamic connectivity modeling and graph theory to identify unique brain “states,” or temporal patterns of connectivity across distributed networks, to distinguish individuals with aMCI from healthy older adults (HOAs). Their results indicated that individuals with aMCI spent significantly more time in one state in particular, whereas neural network analysis in the HOA sample revealed approximately equivalent representation across four distinct states. Among individuals with aMCI, spending a higher proportion of time in the dominant state relative to a state where participants exhibited high cost (a measure combining connectivity and distance), predicted better language performance and less perseveration. For more information, please see here

Nicholas Gilbert, also from Dr. Hillary's group, published a paper on diminished neural network dynamics after moderate and severe traumatic brain injury. The goal of this paper was to examine the dynamic properties of neural networks engaged periodically with task stimulation in order to determine: 1) the reliability of inter-nodal and network-level characteristics over time and 2) the transitions between distinct network states after traumatic brain injury. The results reveal several distinct network "states" that were reliably evident when comparing runs; the overall frequency of dynamic network states are highly reproducible (r-values>0.8) for both samples. Analysis of movement between states resulted in fewer state transitions in the TBI sample and, in a few cases, brain injury resulted in the appearance of states not exhibited by the healthy control (HC) sample. Overall, the findings presented here demonstrate the reliability of observable dynamic mental states during periods of on-task performance and support emerging evidence that brain injury may result in diminished network dynamics. For more information, please see here