Cognitive Reserve and Resilience in Veterans with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Author: Megan Blackwell
Major: Psychology, Biology
Approved: Fall 2017
Status: Completed

Cognitive reserve and resilience are relatively recently developed constructs in psychology. The definition of cognitive reserve is viewed as the ability of the brain to continue to function normally after sustaining trauma. Similarly, resilience is an individual’s ability to “bounce back” cognitively from an illness or injury. Both cognitive reserve and resilience have been seen to negatively correlate with symptom severity in a number of disorders. These symptoms include depression, anxiety, and decreased cognitive functioning, among other factors depending on the disorder in question. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a problem faced by many veterans as a result of injuries sustained in combat or other accidents. Depending on the severity of the TBI, the symptoms could diminish over time, but for many veterans they do not. The effects of TBIs are often compounded with other mental illnesses such as PTSD and anxiety. The current study examines the effect of cognitive reserve and resilience on TBI symptom severity in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans.