Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

John Povlishock

Second Advisor

Kimberle Jacobs

Third Advisor

Tom Reeves

Fourth Advisor

Jeff Dupree

Fifth Advisor

Clive Baumgarten

Sixth Advisor

Ben Churn


National concern over traumatic brain injury (TBI) is growing rapidly. Recent focus is on mild TBI (mTBI), which is the most prevalent injury level in both civilian and military demographics. A preeminent sequelae of mTBI is cognitive network disruption. Advanced neuroimaging of mTBI victims supports this premise, revealing alterations in activation and structure-function of excitatory and inhibitory neuronal systems, which are essential for network processing. However, clinical neuroimaging cannot resolve the cellular and molecular substrates underlying such changes. Therefore, to understand the full scope of mTBI-induced alterations it is necessary to study cortical networks on the microscopic level, where neurons form local networks that are the fundamental computational modules supporting cognition. Recently, in a well-controlled animal model of mTBI, we demonstrated in the excitatory pyramidal neuron system, isolated diffuse axonal injury (DAI), in concert with electrophysiological abnormalities in nearby intact (non-DAI) neurons. These findings were consistent with altered axon initial segment (AIS) intrinsic activity functionally associated with structural plasticity, and/or disturbances in extrinsic systems related to parvalbumin (PV)-expressing interneurons that form GABAergic synapses along the pyramidal neuron perisomatic/AIS domains. The AIS and perisomatic GABAergic synapses are domains critical for regulating neuronal activity and E-I balance. In this dissertation, we focus on the neocortical excitatory pyramidal neuron/inhibitory PV+ interneuron local network following mTBI. Our central hypothesis is that mTBI disrupts neuronal network structure and function causing imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory systems. To address this hypothesis we exploited transgenic and cre/lox mouse models of mTBI, employing approaches that couple state-of-the-art bioimaging with electrophysiology to determine the structural- functional alterations of excitatory and inhibitory systems in the neocortex.


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