Brain insults during childhood can perturb the already non-linear trajectory of typical brain maturation. The diffuse effects of injury can be modelled using structural covariance networks (SCN), which change as a function of neurodevelopment. However, SCNs are estimated at the group-level, limiting applicability to predicting individual-subject outcomes. This study aimed to measure the divergence of the brain networks in paediatric traumatic brain injury (pTBI) patients and controls, and investigate relationships with executive functioning (EF) at 24 months post-injury. T1-weighted MRI acquired acutely in 78 child survivors of pTBI and 33 controls underwent 3D-tissue segmentation to estimate cortical thickness (CT) across 68 atlas-based regions-of-interest (ROIs). Using an ‘add-one-patient’ approach, we estimate a developmental divergence index (DDI). Our approach adopts a novel analytic framework in which age-appropriate reference networks to calculate the DDI were generated from control participants from the ABIDE dataset using a sliding-window approach. Divergence from the age-appropriate SCN was related to reduced EF performance and an increase in behaviours related to executive dysfunctions. The DDI measure showed predictive value with regard to executive functions, highlighting that early imaging can assist in prognosis for cognition.
- Executive function
- Structural covariance networks
- Traumatic brain injury