Electrophysiological impact of multiple concussions in asymptomatic athletes: A re-analysis based on alpha activity during a visual-spatial attention task

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Most EEG studies used event-related potentials to assess long-term and cumulative effects of sport-related concussions on brain activity. Time-frequency methods provide another approach that allows the detection of subtle shifts in types and patterns of brain oscillations. We sought to discover whether event-related alpha activity would be significantly affected in asymptomatic multi-concussed athletes. We measured the amplitude of alpha activity (8–12 Hz) from the EEG recorded during a visual-spatial attention task to compare event-related alpha perturbations in 13 multi-concussed athletes and 14 age-equivalent, non-concussed teammates. Relative to non-concussed athletes, multi-concussed athletes showed significantly less event-related perturbations time-locked to stimulus presentation. Alpha activity alterations were closely related to the number of concussions sustained. Event-related alpha activity differed in asymptomatic multi-concussed athletes when compared to controls. Our study suggests that low-level neurophysiological underpinnings of the deployment of visual-spatial attention are affected in multi-concussed athletes even though their last concussion occurred on average 30 months prior to testing.HIGHLIGHTSEvent-related alpha activity is attenuated in athletes with multiple concussions.Event-related alpha perturbations significantly correlated with P300 amplitude suppression in multi-concussed athletes.Alpha abnormalities increased as a function of the number of concussions sustained.

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