Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at UCLA have found that mild traumatic brain injury may impair the ability of a child's brain to develop to its fullest potential. Dr. David Hovda, director of UCLA's Brain Research Center, says the reason behind this loss may be related to an interference with the regulation of the brain's NMDA receptors.
Hovda: This NMDA receptor has been altered. And so by blocking it to protect the cells from dying, you may be actually retarding the ability of the brain to recover its plastic response.
Narrator: A plastic response refers to the brain's ability to experience ongoing growth. Hovda says the majority of mild concussions may not cause that much of a deficit.
Hovda: However, if the injury is severe enough that it could actually cause a disruption for weeks to months, then there may be a critical period of time when the brain will not be able to take advantage of either new educational opportunities or new experiences.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.