The effects of blast-related neurotrauma on aurally aided visual search while standing and walking

Douglas Brungart*, Sarah Kruger, Tricia Kwiatkowski, Thomas Heil, Krista Beth Highland, Julie Cohen, Melissa Kokx-Ryan, Jaclyn Schurman, Ashley Zaleski-King, Danielle Zion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Service members (SMs) who have suffered mild traumatic brain injury due to blast exposure (b/TBI) often report post-concussive symptoms consistent with auditory, visual, or vestibular impairments even when they score within the normal range on traditional clinical tests of sensory function. One possible explanation for this discrepancy is that patients who score in the low normal range in more than one sensory modality may be severely impaired in tasks that require multisensory integration. This study evaluated unimodal and multimodal sensory performance in SMs with b/TBI and healthy controls by having them conduct four tasks while walking or standing in an immersive virtual environment: an Auditory Localization task (AL) where they moved a cursor to the perceived location of a sound; a Visual Discrimination task (VD) where they distinguished between two visual targets; an Aurally-Aided Visual Search Task (AAVS) where they used an auditory cue to locate and identify a visual target hidden in a field of visual distractors; and a Visual-Only Visual Search task (VOVS) where they located and identified a visual target in a field of distractors with no auditory cue. The results show the b/TBI and healthy control groups performed equivalently in the AL and VD tasks, but that the b/TBI group responded roughly 15% slower in the AAVS task and 50% slower in the VOVS task. Walking had no effect on performance in the visual-only tasks, but both groups responded faster while walking in the AL and AAVS tasks without any reduction in accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2443-2453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number16
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • sensory function
  • traumatic brain injury
  • visual search


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