White Matter Changes and Confrontation Naming in Retired Aging National Football League Athletes

Jeremy F. Strain, Nyaz Didehbani, Jeffrey Spence, Heather Conover, Elizabeth K. Bartz, Sethesh Mansinghani, Myrtle K. Jeroudi, Neena K. Rao, Lindy M. Fields, Michael A. Kraut, C. Munro Cullum, John Hart, Kyle B. Womack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), we assessed the relationship of white matter integrity and performance on the Boston Naming Test (BNT) in a group of retired professional football players and a control group. We examined correlations between fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) with BNT T-scores in an unbiased voxelwise analysis processed with tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). We also analyzed the DTI data by grouping voxels together as white matter tracts and testing each tract's association with BNT T-scores. Significant voxelwise correlations between FA and BNT performance were only seen in the retired football players (p < 0.02). Two tracts had mean FA values that significantly correlated with BNT performance: forceps minor and forceps major. White matter integrity is important for distributed cognitive processes, and disruption correlates with diminished performance in athletes exposed to concussive and subconcussive brain injuries, but not in controls without such exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-379
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2017


  • DTI
  • National Football League
  • TBSS
  • concussion
  • naming
  • white matter


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