Investigating Traumatic Brain Injury
Our mission at the Laboratory for NeuroImaging of Coma and Consciousness (NICC) at Massachusetts General Hospital is to determine how patients recover consciousness after a severe traumatic brain injury and to promote the recovery process.
We use advanced structural and functional imaging techniques to identify brain networks whose connectivity is critical to the restoration of consciousness.
We believe the identification of these brain networks will allow clinicians to provide patients' families with more accurate prognoses and will ultimately enable the development of personalized treatments aimed at promoting recovery.
While the NICC’s mission is to improve outcomes for civilians and military personnel with traumatic brain injury, we also partner with other labs to study recovery of consciousness in patients with coma caused by cardiac arrest, hemorrhage and stroke.
Brian L. Edlow, MD
Associate Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Neurotechnology Trials Unit
Director, Mass General Critical Care Research Neuroimaging
Instructor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Affiliated Faculty, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
View Dr. Edlow's physician profile
Post-doctoral Research Fellow:
M.Sc., University of Brussels, Belgium
Ph.D., University of Liege, Belgium
Camille is also a member of Dr. Joseph Giancino's Neurorehabilitation Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Saef Izzy, MD
Bachelor of Science, Baghdad College
University of Baghdad, College of Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Neurology Residency
Mass General/Brigham and Women's Hospital Neurocritical Care Fellowship
Research Assistants and Clinical Research Coordinators:
B.A., Wheaton College
Allison is also a member of Dr. Bruce Fischl's Laboratory for Computational Neuroimaging at the Mass General Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
B.S., Brown University
B.S, Northeastern University
M.Phil., University of Hong Kong
Lee is also a member of Dr. Bruce Fischl's Laboratory for Computational Neuroimaging at the Mass General Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
B.S., University of Maine
Ani is also a member of Dr. Bruce Fischl's Laboratory for Computational Neuroimaging at the Mass General Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.
Ongoing Research StudiesTraumatic Coma RESPONSE Study
Traumatic Coma RESPONSE Study (REsting and Stimulus-based Paradigms to detect Organized NetworkS and predict Emergence of consciousness): an MRI and EEG study of brain network structure and function in patients with acute traumatic coma.
The primary goal of this multimodal neuroimaging study is to determine if acute, advanced MRI and EEG predict 6-month outcomes better than current clinical predictors.
The secondary goal of this study is to identify longitudinal changes within brain networks that enable recovery of consciousness and communication.
Ex Vivo Connectomics of Traumatic Coma
Ex Vivo Connectomics of Traumatic Coma: a postmortem imaging and histopathological study of brain specimens from patients who have died after severe traumatic brain injury.
The primary goal of this correlative histo-radiologic study is to identify the specific circuits within the brainstem ascending arousal network and cortical default mode network that are necessary and sufficient for recovery of consciousness after traumatic coma.
Secondary goals of this study include:
Harvard Ascending Arousal Network Atlas
The ascending arousal network (AAN) is a subcortical neural network that is critical to consciousness. To date, the majority of studies investigating AAN connectivity have utilized animal models. As a result, current knowledge about the structural and functional connectivity of the human AAN is limited and largely based upon extrapolations from animal data.
We created an AAN atlas to facilitate research into the structural and functional connectivity of the human AAN. The study of AAN "connectomics" has the potential to increase knowledge about arousal physiology in the human brain, as well as arousal pathology in neurological diseases, such as coma and other disorders of consciousness.
In addition, the study of AAN connectomics may advance knowledge about reciprocal connectivity between this subcortical arousal network and cortically based awareness networks, such as the default mode network.
More information about the Harvard Ascending Arousal Network Atlas can be found at
Select NICC Publications
Edlow BL, Takahashi E, Wu O, Benner T, Dai G, Bu L, Grant PE, Greer DM, Greenberg SM, Kinney HC, Folkerth RD. Neuroanatomic connectivity of the human ascending arousal system critical to consciousness and its disorders. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. 2012;71:531-546. PMCID: PMC3387430.
Edlow BL, Wu O. Advanced neuroimaging in traumatic brain injury. Seminars in Neurology. 2012;32:372-398. PMCID: PMC3779469.
Edlow BL, Haynes RL, Takahashi E, Klein JP, Cummings P, Benner T, Greer DM, Greenberg SM, Wu O, Kinney HC*, Folkerth RD*. Disconnection of the ascending arousal system in traumatic coma. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. 2013;72:505-523. (*co-senior authors) PMCID: PMC3761353.
McNab JA*, Edlow BL*, Witzel T, Huang SY, Bhat H, Heberlein K, Feiweier T, Liu K, Keil B, Cohen-Adad J, Tisdall MD, Folkerth RD, Kinney HC, Wald LL. The Human Connectome Project and beyond: Initial applications of 300 mT/m gradients. NeuroImage. 2013;80:234-245. (*co-first authors) PMCID: PMC3812060.
Edlow BL*, Giacino JT*, Hirschberg RE, Gerrard J, Wu O**, Hochberg LR**. Unexpected recovery of function after severe traumatic brain injury: The limits of early neuroimaging-based outcome prediction. Neurocritical Care; 2013;19: 364-375. (*co-first authors, **co-senior authors) PMCID: PMC3902071.
Edlow BL, Giacino JT, Wu O. Functional MRI and outcome in traumatic coma. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 2013;13:375. PMCID: PMC3811121.
Edlow BL, Rosenthal ES. Diagnostic, prognostic and advanced imaging in severe traumatic brain injury.
Current Trauma Reports. 2015; in press.
Select NICC Conference Abstracts
Spencer CA, Chatelle C, Chu C, O’Connor KL, Hirschberg R, Kramer MA, Greenberg SM, Wu O, Giacino JT, Edlow BL*, Rosenthal ES*. Fatigue in the Neurological Examination of Patients Recovering from Acute Traumatic Coma as Assessed by Electrophysiology. Neurocritical Care Society Meeting. Scottsdale, AZ, 2015 (* co-senior authors).
Chatelle C, Spencer CA, Chu C, O’Connor KL, Hirschberg R, Kramer MA, Greenberg SM, Wu O, Giacino JT, Rosenthal ES*, Edlow BL*. Detecting Language Processing in ICU Patients Recovering from Acute Traumatic Coma: A Stimulus-Based EEG Study. Neurocritical Care Society Meeting. Scottsdale, AZ, 2015 (*co-senior authors).
Izzy S, Mazwi N, Martinez S, Spencer C, Glenn M, Greenberg SM, Greer D, Wu O, Edlow BL. Gradient Echo MRI to Predict Long-term Functional Outcomes after Traumatic Brain Injury. Poster presentation, Neurocritical Care Society Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ, 2015.
Moreau A, Izzy S, van der Kouwe A, Stevens A, Varjabedian A, Tirrell L, Tisdall MD, Mareyam A, Wu O, Fischl B, Folkerth R, Edlow BL. In vivo MRI overestimates brainstem axonal injury in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Research Day. Boston, MA, 2015.
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