The focus of this review is an analysis of the use of event-related brain potential (ERP) abnormalities as indices of functional pathophysiology in survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI may be the most prevalent but least understood neurological disorder in both civilian and military populations. In the military, thousands of new brain injuries occur yearly; this lends considerable urgency to the use of highly sensitive ERP tools to illuminate brain changes and to address remediation issues. We review the processes thought to be indexed by the cognitive components of the ERP and outline the rationale for applying ERPs to evaluate deficits after TBI. Studies in which ERPs were used to clarify the nature of cognitive complaints of TBI survivors are reviewed, emphasizing impairment in attention, information processing, and cognitive control. Also highlighted is research on the application of ERPs to predict emergence from coma and eventual outcome. We describe primary blast injury, the leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in present day warfare. The review concludes with a description of an ongoing investigation of mild TBI, aimed at using indices of brain structure and function to predict the course of posttraumatic stress disorder. An additional goal of this ongoing investigation is to characterize the structural and functional sequelae of blast injury. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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