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Understanding Effects of Traumatic Insults on Brain Structure and Function

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Technical Report,01 Mar 2013,30 Sep 2015

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Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, US Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground United States

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A multidisciplinary research project was initiated to enhance the fundamental understanding of brain structural and functional injury mechanisms associated with mild blast events on neuronal cell cultures. Two foundational infrastructure capabilities were realized, but more critically, in-house expertise was developed to execute the research and enable the future US Army capability. The first accomplishment centers on cellular experimentation. A novel experimental research platform was developed to examine the effects of explosive pressure impacts on neurons. This indoor in-vitro experimental research program uses real explosives to study the impact of blast on dissociated neurons. The experimental results found transient damage to the neuronal cell membranes that modulate neurotransmitter release that is necessary for brain signals to generate and carry information between brain regions. The second accomplishment focuses on a multiscale computational brain model implemented in a framework known as GENESIS with parallel processing, where the research team parameterized a brain model to simulate the results from the cellular experiments. Using the model to examine the effect of cellular membrane on the coordinated functional activity of thousands of neurons, the research results revealed that neuronal injury effects on the cells disrupted the coordinated, low-frequency activity of brain signals hypothesized to underlie behavioral performance.

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