Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Psychological Science


Psychological Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Joshua M. Carlson


Recently there has been an increase in the use of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), to measure the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Proteins such as BDNF, S100B, UCH-L1, and Tau have been found to have altered levels in blood serum after TBI. However, there is limited knowledge about the relationship between serum-based and MRI-based biomarkers in concussed athletes post return-to-play. This study aimed to bridge this gap by collecting serum samples from 42 participants across two groups. The first group (n = 21) consisted of recently cleared to return-to-play collegiate athletes after experiencing a sports-related concussion. The second group (n = 21) was collegiate athlete controls matched on age, sex, and sport. Structural and functional MRI were used for analysis from a subgroup of 26 participants (13 concussed, 13 control). Blood samples were collected to assess the levels of BDNF, S100B, UCH-L1, and Tau. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze protein levels in association with gray matter volume (GMV) and resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) following sports-related concussion. BDNF was the most effective protein at differentiating concussion from control. Significant differential relationships were found between BDNF, S100B, UCH-L1, and Tau with GMV and rsFC, suggesting that serum-based biomarkers may have important clinical implications in concussion diagnosis and treatment.

Access Type

Open Access