Transient suppression of event-related evoked potentials produced by mild head injury in the cat

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  • 1 Division of Neurological Surgery, Department of Surgery, and Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
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✓ Studies in humans have shown that sensory stimuli, presented in the context of certain tasks, can elicit a late positive component (LPC), namely P300, in the scalp-recorded evoked potential believed to reflect neural activity related to attentional processes. A similar LPC has been reported in cats and monkeys. In this study, the LPC of the auditory evoked potential (AEP) in the cat was used to detect impairment in attention to a relevant stimulus after low levels of cerebral concussion produced by a fluid percussion device. A hollow screw (for fluid percussion) and stainless steel screws (for AEP recording) were surgically placed in the skull. After recovery from surgery, animals were trained in the paradigm to obtain an LPC. Pupillary dilation was conditioned to tones. A random sequence of two discriminable tones was presented. The lower tone had a probability of 0.1 and was followed by a tail shock (tone-shock). After 400 to 1000 tone-shock presentations, animals attended to the lower tone stimulus as inferred by selective pupillary dilation. In the AEP an early positive component at 50 to 120 msec related to an alerting response was enhanced, and an LPC at 250 to 450 msec appeared in response to the paired tone-shock. Animals were then subjected to cerebral concussion. Complete recovery of normal reflexes, motor coordination, and orienting response was seen within 2 hours after injury. The LPC was suppressed for a period of at least 3 days, suggesting that low magnitudes of brain injury can disrupt higher-order neural activities. This disruption can persist despite recovery of other neurological functions.

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Address reprint requests to: Antonio A. F. DeSalles, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, 15 Parkman Street - ACC 324, Boston, Massachusetts 02114.
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