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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploration and identification of neural correlates in healthy young adults during a graded cognitive, physical, and combined task : an EEG study Porter, Shaun


Returning to play following a sports related concussion remains a controversial process due to the emphasis placed on subjective symptom reporting. The development of an objective measure capable of assessing cortical recovery remains elusive, however EEG has shown promise with its ability to record during exercise. The objective of this pilot study was to examine the association between EEG metrics and behavioural changes in healthy young adults. The study involved 13 participants who performed a novel graded working memory task, a graded exercise session and a task combining the two together while EEG was recorded over 3 separate sessions. The tasks consisted of 5 levels of increasing difficulty and each participant performed the tasks in a randomized order. Participant heart rate, perceived exertion and accuracy were recorded between levels and tasks. EEG analysis applied power spectrum analysis and graph theoretical analysis to identify cortical activity and cortical networks changes. When graded exercise and cognition were combined, there was a significant change in behaviour and neural activity compared to when each task was completed individually. The combined task led to significant changes in brain and behavior as seen in EEG activation pattern, power output and frontal functional connectivity measures. These results suggest that following sports-related concussion individuals would require increased neural resources to complete a combined cognitive and exercise task. Following injury, these additional resources may not be available and result in a decrease in task performance. This data has the potential to be used in addition to existing concussion recovery tests in assuring full recovery prior to the return to play.

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