Study leader Kimberle M. Jacobs, an associate professor in the department of anatomy and neurobiology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, said the findings might explain the neurological symptoms experienced by some individuals who have sustained a head injury associated with sports, accidents or combat.
Jacobs and colleagues demonstrated mild injury can cause structural disruption of axons in the brain while also changing the way the neurons fire in areas where they have not been structurally altered. Axons are nerve fibers in the brain responsible for conducting electrical impulses, Jacobs explained.
"These findings should help move the field forward by providing a unique bioimaging and electrophysiological approach to assess the evolving changes evoked by mild traumatic brain injury and their potential therapeutic modulation," said study co-investigator John T. Povlishock, a professor and director of the Commonwealth Center for the Study of Brain Injury.
The findings were published the Journal of Neuroscience.