Neurobehavioral functional deficits following closed head injury in the neonatal pig

Stuart H. Friess, Rebecca N. Ichord, Kristin Owens, Jill Ralston, Rebecca Rizol, Karen L. Overall, Colin Smith, Mark A. Helfaer, Susan S. Margulies

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64 Scopus citations


Neurobehavioral deficits in higher cortical systems have not been described previously in a large animal model of diffuse brain injury. Anesthetized 3-5 day old piglets were subjected to either mild (142 rad/s) or moderate (188 rad/s) rapid non-impact axial rotations of the head. Multiple domains of cortical function were evaluated 5 times during the 12 day post-injury period using tests of neurobehavioral function devised for piglets. There were no observed differences in neurobehavioral outcomes between mild injury pigs (N = 8) and instrumented shams (N = 4). Moderately injured piglets (N = 7) had significantly lower interest in exploring their environment and had higher failure rates in visual-based problem solving compared to instrumented shams (N = 5) on days 1 and 4 after injury. Neurobehavioral functional deficits correlated with neuropathologic damage in the neonatal pigs after inertial head injury. Injured axons detected by immunohistochemistry (β-APP) were absent in mild injury and sham piglets, but were observed in moderately injured piglet brains. In summary, we have developed a quantitative battery of neurobehavioral functional assessments for large animals that correlate with neuropathologic axonal damage and may have wide applications in the fields of cardiac resuscitation, stroke, and hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-243
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Axonal injury
  • Head injury
  • Neurobehavioral assessment


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