Original Article

Effect of Repetitive, Subconcussive Impacts on Electrophysiological Measures of Attention

Authors: Matthew J. Wilson, PhD, Ashley W. Harkrider, PhD, Kristin A. King, PhD

Abstract

Objectives: In this preliminary study, the auditory P3b response, when measured during a visually distracting task, was investigated as an index of change in cognitive function resulting from exposure to subconcussive impacts (SCIs) in collision sports over time.

Methods: Both pre- and postseason P3b responses were examined in seven first-year collegiate-level American football players. Comparisons were made between a group of seven third- and fourth-year players and a control group of seven noncontact athletes.

Results: No difference in P3b amplitude was revealed in pre- versus postseason data of the first-year players. Furthermore, no P3b amplitude differences were found when comparing first-year players with controls. P3b amplitudes of third- and fourth-year players versus first-year players were smaller along the midline electrode sites.

Conclusions: Preliminary results suggest exposure to SCIs during the course of a season does not affect brain function negatively, as measured by the P3b response; however, differences between first-year players and the group of third- and fourth-year players suggest that exposure to hundreds of SCIs in multiple seasons leads to changes in brain activation patterns. Subtle effects such as difficulty with attentional resource allocation may develop. Longitudinal studies are necessary before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

This content is limited to qualifying members.

Existing members, please login first.

If you have an existing account please login now to access this article or view your purchase options.

Purchase only this article ($15)

Create a free account, then purchase this article to download or access it online for 24 hours.

Purchase an SMJ online subscription ($75)

Create a free account, then purchase a subscription to get complete access to all articles for a full year.

Purchase a membership plan (fees vary)

Premium members can access all articles plus recieve many more benefits. View all membership plans and benefit packages.

References

1. Lovell MR, Collins MW, Iverson GL, et al. Recovery from mild concussion in high school athletes. J Neurosurg 2003;98:296-301.
 
2. McCrea M, Kelly JP, Randolph C, et al. Immediate neurocognitive effects of concussion. Neurosurgery 2002;50:1032-1042.
 
3. Collie A, Makdissi M, Maruff P, et al. Cognition in the days following concussion: comparison of symptomatic versus asymptomatic athletes. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2006;77:241-245.
 
4. Covassin T, Stearne D, Elbin R. Concussion history and postconcussion neurocognitive performance and symptoms in collegiate athletes. J Athl Train 2008;43:119-124.
 
5. Fazio VC, Lovell MR, Pardini JE, et al. The relation between post concussion symptoms and neurocognitive performance in concussed athletes. NeuroRehabilitation 2007;22:207-216.
 
6. Malojcic B, Mubrin Z, Coric B, et al. Consequences of mild traumatic brain injury on information processing assessed with attention and short-term memory tasks. J Neurotrauma 2008;25:30-37.
 
7. Chen JK, Johnston KM, Frey S, et al. Functional abnormalities in symptomatic concussed athletes: an fMRI study. Neuroimage 2004;22:68-82.
 
8. Jantzen KJ, Anderson B, Steinberg FL, et al. A prospective functional MR imaging study of mild traumatic brain injury in college football players. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2004;25:738-745.
 
9. Bazarian JJ, Zhu T, Blyth B, et al. Subject-specific changes in brain white matter on diffusion tensor imaging after sports-related concussion. Magn Reson Imaging 2012;30:171-180.
 
10. Miles L, Grossman RI, Johnson G, et al. Short-term DTI predictors of cognitive dysfunction in mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Inj 2008;22:115-122.
 
11. Gosselin N, Theriault M, Leclerc S, et al. Neurophysiological anomalies in symptomatic and asymptomatic concussed athletes. Neurosurgery 2006;58:1151-1161.
 
12. Theriault M, De Beaumont L, Gosselin N, et al. Electrophysiological abnormalities in well functioning multiple concussed athletes. Brain Inj 2009;23:899-906.
 
13. Theriault M, De Beaumont L, Tremblay S, et al. Cumulative effects of concussions in athletes revealed by electrophysiological abnormalities on visual working memory. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 2011;33:30-41.
 
14. Broglio SP, Pontifex MB, O’Connor P, et al. The persistent effects of concussion on neuroelectric indices of attention. J Neurotrauma 2009;26:1463-1470.
 
15. De Beaumont L, Brisson B, Lassonde M, et al. Long-term electrophysiological changes in athletes with a history of multiple concussions. Brain Inj2007;21:631-644.
 
16. De Beaumont L, Theoret H, Mongeon D, et al. Brain function decline in healthy retired athletes who sustained their last sports concussion in early adulthood. Brain 2009;132(Pt 3): 695-708.
 
17. Guskiewicz KM, Marshall SW, Bailes J, et al. Association between recurrent concussion and late-life cognitive impairment in retired professional football players. Neurosurgery 2005;57:719-726.
 
18. Di Russo F, Spinelli D. Sport is not always healthy: executive brain dysfunction in professional boxers. Psychophysiology 2010;47:425-434.
 
19. Gardner A, Shores EA, Batchelor J. Reduced processing speed in rugby union players reporting three or more previous concussions. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2010;25:174-181.
 
20. Konrad C, Geburek AJ, Rist F, et al. Long-term cognitive and emotional consequences of mild traumatic brain injury. Psychol Med 2011;41:1197-1211.
 
21. Baugh CM, Stamm JM, Riley DO, et al. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: neurodegeneration following repetitive concussive and subconcussive brain trauma. Brain Imaging Behav 2012;6:244-254.
 
22. Bailes JE, Petraglia AL, Omalu BI, et al. Role of subconcussion in repetitive mild traumatic brain injury. J Neurosurg 2013;119:1235-1245.
 
23. Broglio SP, Eckner JT, Paulson HL, et al. Cognitive decline and aging: the role of concussive and subconcussive impacts. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 2012;40:138-144.
 
24. Mihalik JP, Bell DR, Marshall SW, et al. Measurement of head impacts in collegiate football players: an investigation of positional and event-type differences. Neurosurgery 2007;61:1229-1235.
 
25. Schnebel B, Gwin JT, Anderson S, et al. In vivo study of head impacts in football: a comparison of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I versus high school impacts. Neurosurgery 2007;60:490-496.
 
26. Gysland SM, Mihalik JP, Register-Mihalik JK, et al. The relationship between subconcussive impacts and concussion history on clinical measures of neurologic function in collegiate football players. Ann Biomed Eng 2012;40:14-22.
 
27. Talavage TM, Nauman EA, Breedlove EL, et al. Functionally-detected cognitive impairment in high school football players without clinically-diagnosed concussion. J Neurotrauma 2014;31:327-338.
 
28. Breedlove EL, Robinson M, Talavage TM, et al. Biomechanical correlates of symptomatic and asymptomatic neurophysiological impairment in high school football. J Biomech 2012;45:1265-1272.
 
29. McKee AC, Cantu RC, Nowinski CJ, et al. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in athletes: progressive tauopathy after repetitive head injury. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 2009;68:709-735.
 
30. Gavett BE, Stern RA, McKee AC. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: a potential late effect of sport-related concussive and subconcussive head trauma. Clin Sports Med 2011;30:179-188,xi.
 
31. Miller JR, Adamson GJ, Pink MM, et al. Comparison of preseason, midseason, and postseason neurocognitive scores in uninjured collegiate football players. Am J Sports Med 2007;35:1284-1288.
 
32. Ozen LJ, Itier RJ, Preston FF, et al. Long-term working memory deficits after concussion: electrophysiological evidence. Brain Inj 2013;27:1244-1255.
 
33. Yurgil KA, Golob EJ. Cortical potentials in an auditory oddball task reflect individual differences in working memory capacity. Psychophysiology 2013;50:1263-1274.
 
34. Bernstein DM. Information processing difficulty long after self-reported concussion. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 2002;8:673-682.
 
35. Segalowitz SJ, Bernstein DM, Lawson S. P300 event-related potential decrements in well-functioning university students with mild head injury. Brain Cogn 2001;45:342-356.
 
36. Wilson MJ, Harkrider AW, King KA. The effects of visual distracter complexity on auditory evoked p3b in contact sports athletes. Dev Neuropsychol 2014;39:113-130.
 
37. Comerchero M, Polich J. P3a and P3b from typical auditory and visual stimuli. Clin Neurophysiol 1999;110:24-30.
 
38. Conroy MA, Polich J. Normative variation of P3a and P3b from a large sample: Gender, topography, and response time. J Psychophysiol 2007;21:22.
 
39. Dupuis F, Johnston KM, Lavoie M, et al. Concussions in athletes produce brain dysfunction as revealed by event-related potentials. Neuroreport 2000;11:4087-4092.
 
40. Field M, Collins MW, Lovell MR, et al. Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes. J Pediatr 2003;142:546-553.
 
41. Sim A, Terryberry-Spohr L, Wilson KR. Prolonged recovery of memory functioning after mild traumatic brain injury in adolescent athletes. J Neurosurg 2008;108:511-516.
 
42. McClincy MP, Lovell MR, Pardini J, et al. Recovery from sports concussion in high school and collegiate athletes. Brain Inj 2006;20:33-39.
 
43. Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Kang J. Performance changes during a college playing career in NCAA division III football athletes. J Strength Cond Res 2011;25:2351-2357.
 
44. Polich J. Theoretical overview of P3a and P3b, in Polich J (ed): Detection of Change: Event-Related Potential and fMRI Findings. Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003:83-98.
 
45. Donchin E. Presidential address, 1980. Surprise!...Surprise? Psychophysiology 1981;18:493-513.
 
46. Smits M, Dippel DW, Houston GC, et al. Postconcussion syndrome after minor head injury: brain activation of working memory and attention. Hum Brain Mapp 2009;30:2789-2803.
 
47. Witt ST, Lovejoy DW, Pearlson GD, et al. Decreased prefrontal cortex activity in mild traumatic brain injury during performance of an auditory oddball task. Brain Imaging Behav 2010;4:232-247.