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Poster E61

The relation between medial temporal lobe structures and spatial navigation following moderate-severe TBI

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Sophia Kekes-Szabo1 (, Annick F.N. Tanguay1, Michael Dulas2, Hillary Schwarb3, Neal Cohen4, Melissa C. Duff1; 1Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2Binghampton University, 3University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 4University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Individuals with moderate-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) have difficulty navigating life. Survivors struggle to integrate back into their communities, participate independently in daily activities, and act flexibly while navigating their social and physical environments. The virtual Morris water maze (vMWM; Astur et al., 1998) assesses spatial navigational behavior in a virtual environment where participants must repeatedly navigate to a hidden platform using environmental cues. Previous findings in non-injured participants reveal associations between medial temporal lobe structures and fractal dimensionality, an index of search path complexity in the vMWM environment (Daugherty et al., 2015). We investigated the impact of chronic moderate-severe TBI on spatial navigation and examined associations with volumetric measures of the medial temporal lobe. vMWM and magnetic resonance imaging data were collected and analyzed for 24 participants with chronic moderate-severe TBI and 29 non-injured comparison participants (NC). We found a significant group difference with greater distance travelled and longer path complexity on trial 15 (the final trial) for the TBI group. Increased path complexity correlated with lower parahippocampal volume, but not hippocampal volume. Future work investigating the relation between spatial navigation and hippocampal subfields or subregions may prove more sensitive in detecting the predicted associations in this population. Furthermore, extending this work to examine hippocampal contributions to the navigation of social environments could offer a test of our proposal that hippocampal dysfunction underlies a range of behavioral impairments in TBI including memory, navigation, and social functioning.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024