Biological Systems Engineering


First Advisor

Professor Forrest Kievit

Second Advisor

Professor Rebecca Wachs

Third Advisor

Professor Kathy Chiou

Date of this Version



Gee, C.C. (2022) Optimization of a Novel Barnes Maze Protocol for Assessing Antioxidant Treatment Of Traumatic Brain Injury [Unpublished Master's thesis]. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural & Biological Systems Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Forrest Kievit. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2022

Copyright © 2022 Connor C. Gee


Current preclinical research into traumatic brain injury focuses heavily upon cellular and molecular testing to determine the effects of injury and potential benefits of neuroprotective treatments. While this may be a useful method, some argue that an increased focus on behavioral testing could lead to better clinical translation as these assays assess the longer term, downstream effects from a brain injury. The most characterized behavioral tests used in traumatic brain injury research are the spatial learning and memory paradigms, Morris Water Maze and Barnes Maze. The Morris Water Maze is the most used of theses paradigms and relies on spatial cues and a platform for the escape from the water to measure spatial learning and memory but has a downside in the endogenous anxiety because of the necessity of swimming. Additionally, previous work with the Morris Water Maze showed issues in finding large differences between injured and uninjured mice. The Barnes Maze offers an alternative to the Morris Water Maze without the added stress caused by forced swimming by instead relying on bright lights to encourage rodents into the dark escape area. Here, a novel shortened Barnes Maze protocol has been developed and optimized to improve upon a traditional Barnes Maze protocol in detecting differences between healthy and injured rodents. Additionally, this protocol is used to assess the efficacy of a novel antioxidant nanoparticle treatment. Through this testing, additional knowledge regarding the ability and limitations of this experimental procedure are found as well as further knowledge into the benefits shown by a neuroprotective treatment.

Advisor: Forrest Kievit