Joshua Lawton1, Riley Warlick1, Melissa Hunfalvay2, Nicholas Murray1. 1East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. 2RightEye, Bethesda, MD.

BACKGROUND: Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBI) can lead to visual processing deficits, including decreased visual acuity, visual field impairment, eye movement dysfunction- including vergence, saccadic, smooth pursuit movements and an increase in mental workload during visual tasks. Previous studies have shown a general relationship between visual tracking performance and brain function, whereas brain-specific studies, as measured via electroencephalogram (EEG), indicated head-injury correlational differences between mTBI patients and healthy controls. Specifically, mTBI patients demonstrated decreased alpha activity with a corresponding, subsequent, increase in theta activity and an overall increase in cognitive effort during visual-tracking and motor tasks. The purpose of this project was to examine the relationship between brain activity and visual-motor deficit in participants with a recent mTBI compared to healthy controls. We hypothesized that participants with recent mTBIs (within the previous 13 months) would exhibit alpha desynchronization and perform worse on dynamic vision tests compared to healthy controls. METHODS: To test these hypotheses, data from 10 concussed participants (age: 20.2 ± 1.87 yrs, post-injury: 8.0 ± 3.96 months) and 17 healthy participants (age: 20.7 ± 1.68 yrs) wore a 32-channel dry EEG cap while completing a series of RightEye dynamic vision tests. Participants' eye movements were tracked using an SMI Red-RE eye tracker, while MATLAB was used to analyze alpha and theta power within spectral analysis. RESULTS: The mTBI group demonstrated a significant (p < .05) increase in alpha desynchronization during discriminant reaction time and smooth pursuit tasks. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that mTBIs results in increased cognitive workload in brain regions that negatively impact visual motor control and neurological functions during visual discrimination tasks within 1-year post-injury. Furthermore, the results demonstrate the need to assess the long term impact of concussions on the visual-motor system.

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