Repeated mild closed head injury impairs short-term visuospatial memory and complex learning

J Neurotrauma. 2013 May 1;30(9):716-26. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2717.


Concussive force can cause neurocognitive and neurobehavioral dysfunction by inducing functional, electrophysiological, and/or ultrastructural changes within the brain. Although concussion-triggered symptoms typically subside within days to weeks in most people, in 15%-20% of the cases, symptomology can continue beyond this time point. Problems with memory, attention, processing speed, and cognitive flexibility (e.g., problem solving, conflict resolution) are some of the prominent post-concussive cognitive symptoms. Repeated concussions (with loss or altered consciousness), which are common to many contact sports, can exacerbate these symptoms. The pathophysiology of repeated concussions is not well understood, nor is an effective treatment available. In order to facilitate drug discovery to treat post-concussive symptoms (PCSs), there is a need to determine if animal models of repeated mild closed head injury (mCHI) can mimic the neurocognitive and histopathological consequences of repeated concussions. To this end, we employed a controlled cortical impact (CCI) device to deliver a mCHI directly to the skull of mice daily for 4 days, and examined the ensuing neurological and neurocognitive functions using beam balance, foot-fault, an abbreviated Morris water maze test, context discrimination, and active place avoidance tasks. Repeated mCHI exacerbated vestibulomotor, motor, short-term memory and conflict learning impairments as compared to a single mCHI. Learning and memory impairments were still observed in repeated mCHI mice when tested 3 months post-injury. Repeated mCHI also reduced cerebral perfusion, prolonged the inflammatory response, and in some animals, caused hippocampal neuronal loss. Our results show that repeated mCHI can reproduce some of the deficits seen after repeated concussions in humans and may be suitable for drug discovery studies and translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Concussion / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / pathology*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Recurrence