Elena Garcia

Elena Garcia

A Rodent Model of the Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury on the Paired Associates Learning Task




Dr. Sara Burke


College of Medicine


<p>In America alone, it is estimated that annually 1.1 million individuals are treated for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with approximately 50,000 of these injuries resulting in death (Corrigan et al., 2010). The initial, or acute phase of the injury, leads to tissue loss.  A secondary phase of the injury that is associated with inflammation and molecular cascades that impact neuron function can lead to long-term cognitive changes and could also be a target for intervention to improve clinical outcomes. Animal models of TBI are therefore critical to define the both the neuropsychological and molecular features of TBI. The current study therefore used a rodent model of TBI to examine the effects of a controlled cortical impact on a clinically relevant cognitive assessment. We also used immunohistochemistry to evaluate the extent of damage and markers of secondary injury. In this study, we used a rodent model of closed cortical impact (CCI) to assess cognitive dysfunction following either frontal (n=4) or parietal (n=7) cortical injury, and frontal (n=2) or parietal (n=5) sham with 9 males and 9 females. The behavioral task used to test rodent cognition was adapted from tests used with humans in clinical settings. The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) consists of cognitive tasks used to assess working memory, learning, and executive function in humans. Of these tests we are specifically interested in the paired associates learning (PAL) task, where subjects must associate images with their matched locations on a screen. This task serves as an indicator for disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia (Junkkila et al., 2012). We found that TBI in the parietal, but not frontal cortex, impaired performance on the PAL task when compared to sham control groups. Future work will determine the extent of inflammation as characterized by IBA1 and GFAP immunostaining around the injury region using FIJI image analysis software. Preliminary results suggest greater density of marker staining in the ipsilateral thalamic nuclei of parietal injury animals.  </p> <p class=”MsoNormal” style=”margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;font-size: medium;font-family: ‘Times New Roman’, serif><span style=”font-family: ‘Segoe UI’, sans-serif>Corrigan, John D. PhD, ABPP; Selassie, Anbesaw W. DrPH; Orman, Jean A. (Langlois) ScD, MPH The Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March 2010 – Volume 25 – Issue 2 – p 72-80.</p> <p class=”MsoNormal” style=”margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;font-size: medium;font-family: ‘Times New Roman’, serif><span style=”font-family: ‘Segoe UI’, sans-serif>Junkkila J, Oja S, Laine M, Karrasch M. Applicability of the CANTAB-PAL computerized memory test in identifying amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2012;34(2):83-9. doi: 10.1159/000342116. Epub 2012 Aug 27. PMID: 22922741.</span></p>


Hover over the image below to zoom in or click to view full screen.

Research Pitch

View a 3-minute research pitch below.

To comment below, please sign in with Facebook or Google (using your ufl account) by clicking the little round icons to the right. If you decide, you can post as a guest by entering name and email below, but will lose some features. You can also subscribe to the student’s page to get email updates on new comments.

Leave a Reply