Poster Session D, Monday, March 25, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Deficits in Executive Function persist years after mild traumatic brain injury
Hector Arciniega1, Marian E. Berryhill1; 1University of Nevada, Reno
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussion accounts for 85% of all TBIs. After several weeks of rehabilitation individuals return to activities of daily living and there is an assumption that cognitive status returns to premorbid levels. However, this assumption has not been carefully examined. Given the heterogeneity of mTBI, it could be challenging to identify consistent impairments at the group level. Executive functions, such as working memory (WM) can reveal persistent deficits because they are dependent on the success of earlier processing stages (e.g., perception, attention). WM’s dependence on frontoparietal networks, supported by the superior longitudinal fasciculus make it a commonly damaged tract in general. Previous work identified a significant visual WM deficit in undergraduates with a history of mTBI using change detection tasks at a set size of 3 and a maintenance delay of 900 ms. Here, we extend our observations in three important ways to evaluate the generalizability of WM deficits. First, we employed another task, the n-back task, in addition to change detection. Second, we probed visual, spatial and verbal WM. Finally, to investigate attention deficits in WM we included a retro-cue task. Undergraduates with a history of mTBI (>4 years since injury) performed significantly worse than their neurotypical colleagues across WM tasks and retro-cue. These data begin to draw the boundary between likely-impaired executive functions, such as WM and attentional shifting ability, as shown in the retro-cue task. Importantly, they replicate and extend the findings that chronic mTBI can be associated with lasting cognitive changes.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory