Brain, Biology and Behavior, Center for


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Published in final edited form as: Dev Neuropsychol. 2015 January ; 40(1): 1–6. doi:10.1080/87565641.2015.1006479. PMCID: PMC4711266. HHS Public Access


Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis.


While the focus on concussion research has expanded greatly over the past decade, progress in identifying the mechanisms and consequences of head injury, the recovery path and the development of potential interventions to facilitate recovery have been largely absent. Instead, the field has largely progressed through an accumulation of data without the guidance of any systematic theory to guide the formulation of research questions or generate testable hypotheses. As part of this special issue on sports concussion, we advance a theory to describe the evolution of a neural network during the development of a cognitive process as well as the breakdown in that network following injury to the brain. The theory emphasizes the importance of changes in spatial and temporal distributions of the brain's neural networks during normal learning throughout the lifespan and the disruptions of these networks following concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Specific predictions are made regarding both the development of the network as well as the breakdown of that network following injury.