Primary objective: This event-related potentials study investigated the long-term effects associated with a history of one or multiple concussions on the N2pc and P3 components using a visual search oddball paradigm.
Methods and procedure: A total of 47 university football players were assigned to three experimental groups based on prior concussion history: Athletes with a history of one concussion (single-concussion group); Athletes with two or more concussions (multi-concussion group); non-concussed athletic controls. The average post-concussion period was 31 months for athletes in the multi-concussion group and 59 months for the single-concussion group.
Results: This study found significantly suppressed P3 amplitude in the multi-concussed athletes group compared to the single-concussion and non-concussed athletes even when using the time since the latest concussion as a covariate.
Conclusion: This finding suggests that the multi-concussed athletes group showed long-lasting P3 amplitude suppression when compared with single-concussion or non-concussed athletes despite equivalent neuropsychological test scores and post-concussion symptoms self-reports. This pattern of results is important because it shows that 'old' concussions do not cause general or ubiquitous electrophysiological suppression. The specificity of the long-term effects of previous concussions to the P3, along with an intact N2pc response, suggests that further work may allow one to pinpoint the cognitive system that is specifically affected by multiple concussions.