Traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a blow to the head is often associated with complex patterns of brain abnormalities that accompany deficits in cognitive and motor function. Previously we reported that a long-term consequence of TBI, induced with a closed-head injury method modelling human car and sporting accidents, is neuronal hyper-excitation in the rat sensory barrel cortex that receives tactile input from the face whiskers. Hyper-excitation occurred only in supra-granular layers and was stronger to complex than simple stimuli. We now examine changes in the immediate aftermath of TBI induced with same injury method. At 24 hours post-trauma significant sensorimotor deficits were observed and characterisation of the cortical population neuronal responses at that time revealed a depth-dependent suppression of neuronal responses, with reduced responses from supragranular layers through to input layer IV, but not in infragranular layers. In addition, increased spontaneous firing rate was recorded in cortical layers IV and V. We postulate that this early post-injury suppression of cortical processing of sensory input accounts for immediate post-trauma sensory morbidity and sets into train events that resolve into long-term cortical hyper-excitability in upper sensory cortex layers that may account for long-term sensory hyper-sensitivity in humans with TBI.
Johnstone, V., Yan, E. B., Alwis, D. D. S., & Rajan, R. (2013). Cortical hypoexcitation defines neuronal responses in the immediate aftermath of traumatic brain injury. PLoS ONE, 8(5 (Art # e63454)), 1 - 15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063454