LSU Discover Scholar Researching the Effects of Concussions on Young Adults

BATON ROUGE - LSU kinesiology assistant professor Marc Dalecki, along with a group of undergraduate and graduate students, are taking a closer look at concussions and the long-term impacts on young adults. One of those undergraduate students conducting research is Baton Rouge native, Abby Caffey, a senior majoring in kinesiology.

“I’ve been testing basic cognitive functioning. For my experiment we’ve been looking at concentration and attention levels, as well as response time and response inhibition. I collect and analyze the data for my participants and then we’ve looked at further research to see how my data and other research correspond with each other,” said Caffey.

Caffey received an LSU Discover Scholar grant for her research.

“It’s really satisfying to me to get an LSU Discover grant, and to know that everything I’m working on is contributing to something bigger. My findings are particular to me, and not everyone knows what I am finding, and that’s exciting.”

“Starting early with research is a great experience for undergraduate students, to get an idea of how research works,” Dalecki said. “It also gives them an idea of their future.”

Caffey’s interest in the brain started years earlier.

“When I was 16, I was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain disorder and there’s not much known about the disorder. It’s called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. Being in and out of doctors’ offices for years and not knowing what’s going on with me, got me interested in cognition, and neurological functioning,” Caffey said.

Participants in Caffey’s study currently range in age from 18 to 23 years old, but they all have a history of concussions that started in late childhood or adolescence.

“The goal of this research is to investigate whether these young adults are struggling with specific cognitive or motor functions later or a few years later, after they received a concussion. Or if their performance functions are performing well,” Dalecki said. “What we’re seeing is very interesting. We have pretty clear effects for specific cognitive functions that are linked to a specific network in the brain. It looks like these young adults with a history of concussion from high school have slightly cognitive dysfunctions with their response inhibition”

Caffey’s project is part of a larger project being led by Dalecki.

“We are trying to test not only one area in the performance of functional abilities in these individuals. We are interested in how they perform eye-hand coordination tasks. We are also interested in how they perform basic cognitive functions. This is helping us get a clearer picture: if there is some performance decline in a specific area, maybe it’s related to also other declines in other performance areas,” Dalecki said.



Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations