Appl Neuropsychol Adult. 2023 Aug 20:1-10. doi: 10.1080/23279095.2023.2247512. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Sport participation may benefit executive functioning (EF), but EF can also be adversely affected by concussion, which can occur during sport participation. Neural variability is an emerging proxy of brain health that indexes the brain’s range of possible responses to incoming stimuli (i.e., dynamic range) and interconnectedness, but has yet to be characterized following concussion among athletes. This study examined whether neural variability was enhanced by athletic participation and attenuated by concussion.
METHOD: Seventy-seven participants (18-25 years-old) were classified as sedentary controls (n = 33), athletes with positive concussion history (n = 21), or athletes without concussion (n = 23). Participants completed tests of attention switching, response inhibition, and updating working memory while undergoing electroencephalography recordings to index neural variability.
RESULTS: Compared to sedentary controls and athletes without concussion, athletes with concussion exhibited a restricted whole-brain dynamic range of neural variability when completing a test of inhibitory control. There were no group differences observed for either the switching or working memory tasks.
CONCLUSIONS: A history of concussion was related to reduced dynamic range of neural activity during a task of response inhibition in young adult athletes. Neural variability may have value for evaluating brain health following concussion.