Research Reports - Magnesium administration after experimental traumatic brain injury improves decision-making skills

Brain Research Bulletin
Available online 1 March 2018

Jennica M.YoungMichael R.Hoane

After sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a person’s ability to make daily decisions can be affected. Simple tasks such as, deciding what to wear are no longer effortless choices, but are instead difficult decisions. This study explored the use of a discrimination task with a magnesium treatment in order to examine how decision-making skills are affected after TBI and if the treatment helped to attenuate cognitive and motor impairments. Thirty-one male rats were separated into MAG/TBI, VEH/TBI, or VEH/Sham groups. Pre-TBI, rats were trained to dig in the sand for a reinforcer. After establishment of consistent digging behavior rats received a bilateral frontal cortex injury. Rats received either an i.p. injection of 2 mmol/kg magnesium chloride or control at 4, 24, 72 hours post-surgery. Dig task testing began 7 days post-injury, lasting for 4 weeks. The discriminations included two scent pairings; basil (baited) versus coffee then the reversal and then cocoa (baited) versus cumin then the reversal. The results indicated that the magnesium treatment was successful at attenuating cognitive and motor deficits after TBI. The results also indicated that the dig task is a sufficient operant conditioning task in the assessment of frontal functioning after TBI.

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