Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and can lead to immediate and long-term behavioral, physical, and cognitive deficits. Our laboratory has previously characterized the neuropathological and behavioral consequences of mild-to-severe TBI in rodents of varying ages. To develop a high-throughput platform upon which to test the effects of therapeutic interventions, we have recently begun to assess behavior and physiological parameters in a Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) model using a simple spring-loaded high impact trauma (HIT) device as a model of blunt force trauma. Drosophila (young, middle, and old) received either TBI or a “sham” procedure followed by a series of behavioral tests designed to characterize the sequelae of motor and learning deficits. The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of, and the interactions between, injury and age on factors including motor ability, learning, memory, and mortality. The results demonstrated a significant age-related decline in motor function that, in some cases, TBI exacerbated, which corroborates clinical observations of age-related interactions with mild TBI in humans. Although there were trends showing TBI-related deficits, no significant differences were found between injury groups across variables. However, our laboratory has recently presented research demonstrating significant effects of injury following repeated mild TBIs, possibly indicating that our flies require more than a single mild TBI to show significant effects of injury. While this current study was able to successfully model age-related deficits, modifications in type/frequency of injury could be made to facilitate its use as a viable, relevant, and high-throughput model of both aging and TBI in future studies of therapeutic interventions.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Richard E. Hartman

Second Advisor

Grace J. Lee

Third Advisor

Jenny H. Lee

Fourth Advisor

David A. Vermeersch

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Drosophila melanogaster; Brain Injuries, Traumatic; Aging



Page Count

ix, 92 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives