Stability of MRI metrics in the advanced research core of the NCAA-DoD concussion assessment, research and education (CARE) consortium

Andrew S. Nencka, Timothy B. Meier, Yang Wang, L. Tugan Muftuler, Yu Chien Wu, Andrew J. Saykin, Jaroslaw Harezlak, M. Alison Brooks, Christopher C. Giza, John Difiori, Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Jason P. Mihalik, Stephen M. LaConte, Stefan M. Duma, Steven Broglio, Thomas McAllister, Michael A. McCrea, Kevin M. Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


The NCAA-DoD Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) consortium is performing a large-scale, comprehensive study of sport related concussions in college student-athletes and military service academy cadets. The CARE “Advanced Research Core” (ARC), is focused on executing a cutting-edge investigative protocol on a subset of the overall CARE athlete population. Here, we present the details of the CARE ARC MRI acquisition and processing protocol along with preliminary analyzes of within-subject, between-site, and between-subject stability across a variety of MRI biomarkers. Two experimental datasets were utilized for this analysis. First, two “human phantom” subjects were imaged multiple times at each of the four CARE ARC imaging sites, which utilize equipment from two imaging vendors. Additionally, a control cohort of healthy athletes participating in non-contact sports were enrolled in the study at each CARE ARC site and imaged at four time points. Multiple morphological image contrasts were acquired in each MRI exam; along with quantitative diffusion, functional, perfusion, and relaxometry imaging metrics. As expected, the imaging markers were found to have varying levels of stability throughout the brain. Importantly, between-subject variance was generally found to be greater than within-subject and between-site variance. These results lend support to the expectation that cross-site and cross-vendor advanced quantitative MRI metrics can be utilized to improve analytic power in assessing sensitive neurological variations; such as those effects hypothesized to occur in sports-related-concussion. This stability analysis provides a crucial foundation for further work utilizing this expansive dataset, which will ultimately be freely available through the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research Informatics System.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1121-1140
Number of pages20
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Concussion
  • MRI
  • Quantitative imaging
  • Reproducibility
  • Stability
  • mTBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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    Nencka, A. S., Meier, T. B., Wang, Y., Muftuler, L. T., Wu, Y. C., Saykin, A. J., Harezlak, J., Brooks, M. A., Giza, C. C., Difiori, J., Guskiewicz, K. M., Mihalik, J. P., LaConte, S. M., Duma, S. M., Broglio, S., McAllister, T., McCrea, M. A., & Koch, K. M. (2018). Stability of MRI metrics in the advanced research core of the NCAA-DoD concussion assessment, research and education (CARE) consortium. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 12(4), 1121-1140.