Using fMRI and neuropsychological tests to index brain function and intellectual abillities following a history of multiple concussions
MetadataShow full item record
Concussive injuries occur often in physically trying contact sports such as football and rugby. These injuries can impair neural activity, which in turn negatively effects neurocognitive performance. The purpose of this experiment is to use functional MRI (fMRI) to define and track temporal changes in brain function associated with concussive injuries; assess the positive relationship between fMRI defined brain function and neurocognitive performance using traditional neuropsychological tests; and investigate the relationship between fMRI defined brain function and symptom permanence in athletes with a history of multiple concussions. Based on previous research and the extant literature it is expected that athletes with a history of multiple concussive injuries will show specific patterns of fMRI BOLD response that differentiate them from matched controls. It is also expected that participants with a history of multiple concussions will perform significantly worse on the neuropsychological tasks than matched controls. However, the results indicate no such findings; in fact, there were no significant differences between the experimental group and their control counterparts on the neuropsychological testing, fMRI defined brain activation, response time or accuracy on the fMRI tasks. These results could point to greater neuroplasticity amongst young athletes than was previously thought. It is possible that the tasks used didn’t accurately measure traits that are changed after concussive injuries, or the sample size may not be large enough to show statistically significant differences in behavioral or fMRI data. Finally, it is possible that having two to three concussions is below the threshold at which one can expect to see permanent changes.