Genetically modified mice represent useful tools for traumatic brain injury (TBI) research and attractive preclinical models for the development of novel therapeutics. Experimental methods that minimize the number of mice needed may increase the pace of discovery. With this in mind, we developed and characterized a prototype electromagnetic (EM) controlled cortical impact device along with refined surgical and behavioral testing techniques. By varying the depth of impact between 1.0 and 3.0 mm, we found that the EM device was capable of producing a broad range of injury severities. Histologically, 2.0-mm impact depth injuries produced by the EM device were similar to 1.0-mm impact depth injuries produced by a commercially available pneumatic device. Behaviorally, 2.0-, 2.5-, and 3.0-mm impacts impaired hidden platform and probe trial water maze performance, whereas 1.5-mm impacts did not. Rotorod and visible platform water maze deficits were also found following 2.5- and 3.0-mm impacts. No impairment of conditioned fear performance was detected. No differences were found between sexes of mice. Inter-operator reliability was very good. Behaviorally, we found that we could statistically distinguish between injury depths differing by 0.5 mm using 12 mice per group and between injury depths differing by 1.0 mm with 7-8 mice per group. Thus, the EM impactor and refined surgical and behavioral testing techniques may offer a reliable and convenient framework for preclinical TBI research involving mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-673
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Behavior
  • Controlled cortical impact
  • Experimental traumatic brain injury
  • Histology
  • Mice


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