Visual p300 effects beyond symptoms in concussed college athletes

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2004 Feb;26(1):55-73. doi: 10.1076/jcen.


In order to assess whether cerebral anomalies may be observed in the absence of clinical symptoms, the current study compared the effects of concussions on attentional capacities (reaction times, accuracy) and Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) in concussed athletes with (n = 10) or without (n = 10) symptoms as well as in athletes who never had a concussion (n = 10). The P300 response was recorded from 28 electrodes during a modified visual oddball paradigm. Participants were instructed to press a key upon the appearance of the frequent stimuli as well as when a rare nontarget stimulus followed the frequent one. The other key was to be pressed when the subsequent rare stimuli (rare target) appeared until a frequent one reappeared. The symptomatic athletes displayed longer reaction times than the other two groups of athletes. The P300 amplitude to the rare target stimuli was significantly more attenuated in the symptomatic athletes than in the other two groups. Moreover, the P300 amplitude varied inversely with the severity of post-concussion symptoms but was not influenced by time elapsed since injury. Although the clinical significance of the P300 differences shown by the symptomatic athletes is still uncertain, the results do indicate that symptom severity may be a crucial indicator of functional impairments following mild traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electrodes
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time