AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 4, 2018

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UNH Researchers Find Lasting Impact of Concussions on Young Adults

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found that young adults who experienced repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussions, can experience persistent cognitive changes as well as altered brain activity.

“Multiple concussions, even after general symptoms have subsided, decrease an individual’s ability to flexibly shift their mode of thinking,” said Robert Ross, assistant professor of psychology. “We found that these decreases in performance are associated with changes in how the brain communicates information.”

In their study, researchers looked at young adults ranging in age from 18 to 24 who had sustained at least two concussions with the most recent one being at least a month before the testing. The participants were asked to switch between two tasks which included telling the difference between colors and shapes, like red and green and circle or square. Cognitive changes, like working memory and processing speed, were noted and oscillatory activity, or brainwaves, were monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG), which tests for changes in the brainwaves.

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