The purpose of this study is to examine neurobehavioral phenotyping of male and female rats exposed to blast overpressure with or without exposure to additional acute psychological distress. Utilizing young adult Sprague Dawley rats, the behavior (to include general health, depression-related behaviors, anxiety-related behaviors, learning, processing), neurochemistry (to include peripheral stress hormones and immune markers), and neurobiology (to include different brain regions and catecholamines and their metabolites) of the animal subjects is assessed in order to examine the moderating effects of acute distress, as well as the appropriateness of the BOP model in modeling mild traumatic brain injury. This study has also evaluated the efficacy of novel neurobehavioral assessments and the Warrior Stress Paradigm designed by the Grunberg lab. Biological and behavioral responses to acute distress between sexes are of particular interest in this study. There are two sub-studies of the main project:
HIFU: The main purpose of this sub-study is to examine the utility of the HIFU injury in modeling traumatic brain injury in rats.
Electrophysiology: The main purpose of this experiment was to assess the electrophysiological function in rats exposed to a blast induced mild TBI. Analysis of electrophysiology within the brain tissue allows investigators to assess the impact of traumatic brain injury on neuronal function and plasticity and to determine if the electrophysiology observed correlates to collected behavior.Behavior, emotions, anxiety, trauma, and nicotine study
The purpose of this study is to examine behavioral and biological effects of nicotine on male and female rats under stressful conditions. Utilizing young adult Sprague Dawley rats, the behavior (to include general health, depression-related and anxiety-related behaviors), neurochemistry (to include peripheral stress hormones), and neurobiology (to include different brain regions and catecholamines and their metabolites) of the animal subjects is assessed in order to examine the effects nicotine (via osmotic minipumps) in animals experiencing acute distress.
Service Dog Training Program and Resilience: Evaluation of PTSD Treatment in Wounded Warriors
Background: Wounded Warriors face functional impairment from psychological conditions, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Interactions with service dogs may improve social interaction, decrease perceived stress, and decrease symptoms of PTSD. However, little empirical research has evaluated this possible, adjunctive therapy.
Objectives: To evaluate medical, psychological, social, and biological effects of service dog training on patients at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Hospitals. The objectives are to evaluate: service dog training as an adjunctive treatment for PTSD; a resilience measure; and relationships between PTSD, resilience, functioning, and service dog training. We hypothesize that service dog training will decrease PTSD symptomatology and that biomarkers of stress, self-reported stress, functional impairment, and social connections will be associated with resilience.
Methods: Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Brigade either will receive standard care or will participate in a service dog training program in addition to standard care. Soldiers will answer questions: before the study; several times during the study; and post treatment. Questions will address: resilience, PTSD symptoms, functioning (biomedical, social, and psychological).
Evaluation of military medical leadership performed in Field Training Exercises
The Bushmaster Simulation Field Exercise is an important part of the education and training of USU medical students. MS-IV students participate in Bushmaster during their fourth year to apply medical and military medical training (including leadership) in a realistic five-day field setting. Bushmaster also provides an opportunity for USU faculty and adjunct faculty to teach "in the field." The Bushmaster Research Activities Group (BRAG) was recently formed as a collaboration among members of the Military & Emergency Medicine Department and the Grunberg Laboratory group to conduct systematic program evaluation of the Bushmaster exercise, to examine student performance in this field setting, and to determine whether field setting performance relates to past experiences, individual demographics, and academic performance.
Objectives: To compare student performance in military medical leadership roles during the Bushmaster field exercise with: individual demographics (including prior service experience; branch of service; time in service); pre-clinical academic performance; and clinical academic performance. The goal of this work is to provide information that may help to enhance military medical leadership training at USU.
Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) & Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC)
Collaboration with CHAMP & HPRC
We are working with CHAMP and HPRC to help better integrate psychological metrics and resources into the health and performance of military members, their families, and personnel in the field helping these individuals. We are involved in multiple projects with these groups that include data analyses, updating webpages with resources, and helping determine the best psychological metrics to optimize human performance among these groups.
Below is a partial list of on-going collaborations.Epigenetic Factors and Cortical Map Plasticity in the Mouse Model of Traumatic Brain Injury
We currently are planning to expand our thematic work regarding non-pharmacological approaches to attenuate stress and to develop adjunctive therapies for PTSD. More specifically, we are considering examination of effects of: humor and laughter; time to "recover" after being exposed to stressors; martial arts; music. Ideally, we hope to use a psychobiological assessment approach that includes human laboratory experiments, human field/clinic studies, and parallel animal experiments.