Indices neurophysiologiques des commotions cérébrales

Chercheurs-boursiers- Senior | Concours 2012-2013

Hugo Théoret

Centre de recherche du CHU Ste-Justine


Domaine : Neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Sport concussions are a major health problem affecting millions of individuals each year. Although most of the physical symptoms tend to disappear within ten days following the incident, recent studies suggest that some concussion-related impairments, especially at the motor level, may persist for years in certain individuals. The first objective of the present research program is to determine whether objective measures of neuronal activity in motor areas of the brain can predict the presence of persistent motor symptoms. We will assess motor cortex activity in concussed athletes shortly after a concussive event and then regularly for one year, to establish a pattern of specific activity associated with long term deficits. The second objective is to develop a neuromodulatory approach that can reduce neurophysiological dysfunctions observed in the primary motor cortex of concussed athletes and attenuate the severity of specific behavioral deficits. We have revealed in the past the presence of increased inhibition in the primary motor cortex of asymptomatic concussed athletes that were tested on average one year after the last concussion; this increased inhibition was directly related to deficits in motor learning. It is now possible, through non-invasive stimulation techniques, to modulate activity in specific brain areas, thereby promoting better behavioral performance. We propose to use transcranial direct current stimulation to reduce neurophysiological dysfunctions found in the motor cortex of concussed athletes to increase performance on motor learning tasks. The proposed approach will allow a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the chronicity of certain symptoms and will enable the development of tools that can normalize neurophysiological and behavioral dysfunctions present in concussed athletes.