Recovery of Theta Frequency Oscillations in Rats Following Lateral Fluid Percussion Corresponds With a Mild Cognitive Phenotype

Katelynn Ondek, Aleksandr Pevzner, Kayleen Tercovich, Amber M. Schedlbauer, Ali Izadi, Arne D. Ekstrom, Stephen L. Cowen, Kiarash Shahlaie, Gene G. Gurkoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Whether from a fall, sports concussion, or even combat injury, there is a critical need to identify when an individual is able to return to play or work following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Electroencephalogram (EEG) and local field potentials (LFP) represent potential tools to monitor circuit-level abnormalities related to learning and memory: specifically, theta oscillations can be readily observed and play a critical role in cognition. Following moderate traumatic brain injury in the rat, lasting changes in theta oscillations coincide with deficits in spatial learning. We hypothesized, therefore, that theta oscillations can be used as an objective biomarker of recovery, with a return of oscillatory activity corresponding with improved spatial learning. In the current study, LFP were recorded from dorsal hippocampus and anterior cingulate in awake, behaving adult Sprague Dawley rats in both a novel environment on post-injury days 3 and 7, and Barnes maze spatial navigation on post-injury days 8–11. Theta oscillations, as measured by power, theta-delta ratio, peak theta frequency, and phase coherence, were significantly altered on day 3, but had largely recovered by day 7 post-injury. Injured rats had a mild behavioral phenotype and were not different from shams on the Barnes maze, as measured by escape latency. Injured rats did use suboptimal search strategies. Combined with our previous findings that demonstrated a correlation between persistent alterations in theta oscillations and spatial learning deficits, these new data suggest that neural oscillations, and particularly theta oscillations, have potential as a biomarker to monitor recovery of brain function following TBI. Specifically, we now demonstrate that oscillations are depressed following injury, but as oscillations recover, so does behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number600171
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - Dec 4 2020


  • biomarker
  • in vivo electrophysiology
  • phase coherence
  • spatial learning
  • theta oscillations
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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