Functional recovery following injury to the brain: Therapeutic effects of environmental stimulation

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

W. Dalton Dietrich - Committee Chair


Mechanisms underlying functional recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI) were investigated. In part one, the pattern of baseline metabolism and functional activation was studied following moderate TBI to define relevant loci for interventions aimed at promotion of functional recovery. In part two, animals were subjected to severe TBI and then placed in either standard cage housing or an enriched environment. Animals recovering from TBI in an enriched environment showed better behavioral outcomes and smaller lesion volumes as compared to their standard-housed counterparts. At two months post-TBI, animals showed severe metabolic abnormalities and total lack of functional activation in the whisker barrel circuit. In part three, the expression profiles of mRNA for three proteins (alpha-CAMKII, MAP2, Synaptophysin) associated with brain plasticity were studied following TBI with and without environmental enrichment. Analysis showed no differences between enriched and standard groups with respect to mRTNA expression profiles following TBI. It was found that alpha-CAMKII mRNA expression was significantly more perturbed following TBI than MAP2 or Synaptophysin. Taken together, these results shed further light on the complex picture of TBI pathophysiology and the mechanisms the brain utilizes to promote functional recovery following injury.


Biology, Neuroscience; Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy

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