Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nancy Kelley-loughnane (Advisor), Susan Kraner (Committee Member), Larry Ream (Committee Member), Courtney Sulentic (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Each year there are over 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States causing long-term health deficits and significant medical costs. This growing epidemic has led researchers to find methods for treating and preventing these injuries. Environmental Enrichment (EE) is an innovative technique shown to improve cognitive and functional outcomes following a TBI; however, the beneficial effects before injury have not been established. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) has been determined as a neuroprotective biomolecule in TBI. This research examined these two protective components and their roles in TBI. It was hypothesized that BDNF mRNA and protein levels would be elevated in animals environmentally enriched prior to TBI compared to non-enriched animals. Results indicated that EE applied before TBI improved cognitive performance, but BDNF mRNA and protein levels were not elevated significantly. These findings require further examination to determine a more definitive relationship between these mechanisms.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology & Physiology

Year Degree Awarded