New York: Our brains' ability to process sound can act as a biological marker for traumatic brain injury while taking away the ambiguity and controversy out of diagnosing concussions and tracking recovery.
Concussions, a type of mild traumatic brain injury, are the result of a direct or indirect blow to the head that causes the brain to be jostled within the skull.
But there is little relation between the force of an impact and the potential for injury -- two athletes can suffer similar hits but experience vastly different outcomes, the researchers said.
"With this new biomarker, we are measuring the brain's default state for processing sound and how that has changed as a result of a head injury," said lead author Nina Kraus, Professor from Northwestern University in Illinois, US.
"This is something patients cannot misreport, you cannot fake it or will your brain to perform better or worse. This biomarker could take the guesswork out of concussion diagnosis and management," Kraus added.
By observing research subjects' brain activity as they were exposed to auditory stimuli, the researchers discovered a distinct pattern in the auditory response of children -- brain's automatic electric reaction to sound -- the who suffered concussions compared to children who had not.
"Making sense of sound requires the brain to perform some of the most computationally complex jobs it is capable of, which is why it is not surprising that a blow to the head would disrupt this delicate machinery," Kraus said.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.