Links for Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion

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Ruth Williams Tau is a structural protein of brain cells that, in various neurodegenerative conditions and as a result of brain injury, can accumulate as tangled toxic deposits. Using a recently developed in vivo imaging technique, researchers have now examined such tau pathology in the brains of patients who, decades earlier, suffered a single head trauma. The results, presented in Science Translational Medicine last week (September 4), reveal not only that tau accumulation can remain unusually high in such patients, but also that tau abundance correlates with neuronal damage. “It’s an important paper that links a single traumatic brain injury that occurred many years ago to long-term neurodegeneration,” says neuropathologist Thor Stein of Boston University who was not involved in the research. It also “looks at important biomarkers that can be detected in life and that will hopefully, down the road, be useful in a clinical setting for earlier diagnosis.” “It’s a very good and scope-broadening research piece. No one has done a study like this,” adds neurologist Steven DeKosky of the University of Florida who also didn’t take part in the study. “It speaks to the longevity of the pathological changes that can occur to people [after an injury].” Tau tangles, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and neurodegeneration, have been found in the brains of some people who have suffered repeated head traumas, such as boxers and NFL football players, as well as in some people who have suffered a single severe traumatic brain injury. © 1986–2019 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 26600 - Posted: 09.11.2019

By Gregg Easterbrook Sunday marks the opening weekend of the 100th season of the National Football League. Many can’t get enough professional football. During the 2018-19 prime-time TV schedule, three of the four top-rated shows among adults ages 18 to 49 were pro football games. Only “Game of Thrones” bested pigskin in the ratings, and that series concluded, while the N.F.L. goes on. Still, many people presume the sport is in an irreversible tailspin. They think that mounting evidence of brain trauma from concussions, along with the sort of routine brutality that led to last month’s surprise retirement of the 29-year-old quarterback Andrew Luck, will result in football losing its mass appeal. It is also assumed that parents of young athletes will refuse to allow their children to play football at the youth and high school levels, depleting the talent pool. But the future of football looks much brighter than that. It’s true that the game faces multiple challenges involving player safety, especially at the youth and high school levels. But recent reforms in pro, college and high school football appear to be reducing the harm caused by the sport. With a handful of additional reforms at all levels of play, none of which would threaten the fundamental character of the game, the N.F.L.’s second century could look as good as its first. Andrew Luck’s retirement should not be taken as an omen. Generally, N.F.L. longevity is improving. Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl in 2016 at age 39; in February, Tom Brady hoisted the trophy at age 41. The 40-year-old quarterback Drew Brees is likely to be in the Super Bowl mix again this season. Football brought Mr. Luck wealth and celebrity, then he quit while he was ahead. Good for him! Mr. Luck’s injuries were similar in severity to those suffered by the cyclist Alessandro de Marchi during the Tour de France, which often has bicycle crashes, and by the skiing star Lindsey Vonn in many incidents. Athletics cannot be made free of danger of bodily harm. A more significant omen is that N.F.L. neurological damage is not getting worse but rather is in decline. Concussions are down. Numerous rules changes led to the N.F.L. reporting 214 concussions last season, versus 281 the season before. Over the five prior seasons, the average was 243 concussions. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26588 - Posted: 09.09.2019

By: Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.R. I n December 1960, President-elect John F. Kennedy (JFK) penned The Soft American for Sports Illustrated, in which he described the importance of physical fitness to brain health: “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” As with many of JFK’s public statements, these prescient words remain spot-on today. Neuroscientists continue to uncover the remarkable connection between physical well-being and brain health on many levels: cognitive, behavioral, social, emotional, and more. Boxing, JFK noted, was one of the sports the ancient Greek states pursued to enhance national fitness. But the idea that boxing could promote “dynamic and creative intellectual activity” certainly runs counter to current sensibilities, much like the advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes that graced the back cover of Sports Illustrated at the time. While JFK did not name other collision sports, it seems reasonable to assume that American football would have also qualified as a rung on his ladder to physical fitness and mental well-being. From a 2019 vantage point, it seems shocking that JFK was touting the benefits of sport for brain health while ignoring risks of sport-related brain injury. In 1960, however, when he proposed a comprehensive national program to improve physical fitness, the adverse impact of sport-related head trauma on brain development and function was not on anyone’s radar. Even forty-five years later, when “ Iron Mike ” Webster ’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was reported in the journal Neurosurgery, adverse effects of sport-related head trauma were largely unknown to the general public and, at best, widely under-recognized among the medical community. It is worth noting that Mike Webster himself had never been diagnosed with a concussion or other form of brain injury during his time on the gridiron. Attitudes have changed dramatically since, but in what way has our understanding of head trauma and its adverse effects actually evolved? And most importantly, how can our expanding knowledge inform a viable path forward? © 2019 The Dana Foundation.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 26585 - Posted: 09.07.2019

By Ken Belson COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — On a steamy afternoon in June, Jim Poynter, the coach of the 7-on-7 touch football team at Lamar High School in Arlington, Tex., escorted one of his former players around the state tournament. In a game last spring, the player, Brett Green Jr., was knocked out after his head collided with a teammate’s shoulder as they jumped to intercept a pass. Green was airlifted to a hospital, where bleeding in his brain was discovered. He spent weeks in the hospital recovering from dizziness, headaches and blurred vision, and had eye surgery and physical therapy. He will never play football again. Poynter wanted Green to know that some good came of his misfortune. Spread across the fields, about 4,000 players on 128 teams from across Texas ran pass routes, defended receivers and celebrated with high fives. What mattered most to Poynter, though, was that every player wore a soft-shell helmet. For years, 7-on-7 touch football has been billed as a safe way for players to stay in shape until tackle football starts up in the late summer. Most injuries involve twisted ankles, sprained knees and pulled muscles. But Green’s injury prompted the Texas State 7on7 Organization, aware that parents are more concerned than ever about safety, to become the first statewide group in the country to require that all of its players wear soft-shell helmets, starting at this year’s state tournament. “I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” Green said. “It felt good to see in person because you know for sure they are wearing protection. I wish the decision had been made earlier, but I try to look for the good in everything.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26521 - Posted: 08.21.2019

By Robert C. Cantu and Mark Hyman If U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked for our advice (he hasn’t), we’d recommend that he issue the following statement: SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Tackle football is dangerous for children. Children who play tackle football absorb repeated hits to the head. As adults, they’re at higher risk of suffering cognitive deficits as well as behavioral and mood problems. We’d suggest that, as the nation’s top doctor, the surgeon general put this warning on every youth football helmet and place it in bold type on all youth tackle football registration forms. A parent or guardian wouldn’t be able to sign up their child without seeing it. It’s hard to overstate the importance of these steps. It’s fair to say that millions of sports-playing kids would enter adulthood with healthier brains and better futures. Forty million children participate in organized sport each year. Protecting them from head injury is a big task. Youth sports organizations generally do an admirable job. In the past decade, the U.S. Soccer Federation has banned heading for players 10 years old and younger and limited heading for players 11 to 13. USA Hockey no longer allows body checking until players are 13. Even tackle football is safer — marginally. Pop Warner, the largest national youth football league, has eliminated kickoffs for the youngest players — 5- to 10-years-old — and limited full-contact practice time. Of late, we’re learning more about brain injury among youth players in rougher “collision” sports such as football. These young athletes are at greater risk than we knew and than many parents and coaches would find acceptable. Recent studies of youth football are particularly alarming. Since 2015, Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center (which Robert C. Cantu co-founded) has published three studies all leading to a disquieting conclusion: Adults who played tackle football as children were more likely to deal with emotional and cognitive challenges in later life. © 1996-2019 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 26518 - Posted: 08.20.2019

By Joseph D. Stern, M.D. My patient had arrived from another hospital in the middle of the night. He was a wiry older man, restless but alert. He had a blood clot compressing the dominant hemisphere of his brain. He did not speak or move the right side of his body but fidgeted with his left hand and leg: pulling at his IV; removing his oxygen tubing and the ECG contacts pasted to his chest. He did not seem to understand what was happening and could neither assent to nor refuse the surgery I was recommending. Yet just hours earlier, he had been his normal self. His wife, whom I later learned was developing dementia, accompanied him in the ambulance. She was frail, thin and appeared disheveled and confused. She knew little about his medications and medical problems and didn’t know if he was on blood thinners. Still, given his rapid decline over a few hours, I took him to surgery. The craniotomy went well and he seemed to recover smoothly. But my patient made little improvement over the next two days. A repeat CT scan showed that the blood I had removed had re-accumulated. This is a known complication of a craniotomy for subdural hematoma. Still, it felt like a personal failure. The easiest thing to do would have been to take my patient back to surgery. But was it the right thing to do? Two weeks earlier I had attended a conference on palliative care held by the Archdiocese of Boston. Dr. Mary Buss, a hematologist/oncologist and chief of palliative care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, related some recent research on moral distress in neurosurgery she had conducted with Dr. Stephen Miranda. Dr. Miranda, who was then a medical student and is now a neurosurgical resident at the University of Pennsylvania, interviewed neurosurgery residents about the decision to operate on an elderly patient with early dementia and on blood thinners with a subdural hematoma and a poor neurological exam. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26499 - Posted: 08.15.2019

Laura Sanders A season of head hits left its mark on college football players’ brains, even when those hits didn’t cause concussions. Routine head bumps over the course of a season were linked to abnormal brain tissue in part of players’ brain stems, researchers report August 7 in Science Advances. It’s unclear if these brain stem changes affect mental performance, or whether the changes are permanent. But the study suggests that in addition to the big hits that cause concussions, these smaller knocks could cause trouble. During the 2011, 2012 and 2013 football seasons, a team led by researchers at the University of Rochester in New York recruited players from the university to participate in a study looking at head impacts and brain health. Each player wore an accelerometer in his helmet to capture the forces at play during all practices and games during a single season. The players also underwent pre- and post-season brain scans. A measure called fractional anisotropy let researchers estimate how well stretches of white matter brain tissue can carry neural signals, a key job of healthy brain tissue. The 38 players included in the study collectively took 19,128 hits. And by the end of their season, the players on average had lower measures of fractional anisotropy in their right midbrains — a part of the brain stem. These declines were more tightly linked to the number of hits that twisted heads, as opposed to direct head-on hits. Those rotational forces might be particularly damaging to brain tissue, a finding that fits with results from earlier studies, the researchers write. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2019.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26491 - Posted: 08.13.2019

Dr. Brian Goldman A 2018 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that brain injuries — which are caused by a blow to the head — send just over a million children and adolescents per year to emergency departments. A study published Monday in the journal Brain Injury reveals some disturbing reasons for these potentially serious injuries. Researchers led by Bina Ali from the U.S.-based Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation reviewed injury surveillance data over a four-year period ending in 2013. They looked for specific causes of brain injuries in children and adolescents in five age groups from infancy to 19 years of age. Overall, 72 per cent of brain injuries that did not result in death but did result in a visit to the emergency department were caused by consumer products that are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the independent U.S. government agency that develops uniform standards while promoting the safety of consumer products. The study found that the type of consumer product depended on the age of the child. Infants under one year of age got traumatic brain injuries because they fell. According to the researchers, 25 per cent of all emergency visits for traumatic brain injuries in that age group were caused by a fall from the crib or bed. At 14 per cent, the second leading cause was uneven flooring that caused the infant to trip and fall. Bunk beds were especially risky in children one to four years of age. But stairs and floors were equally hazardous in that age group. Between five and nine years of age, flooring was still the leading cause of brain injuries, and falling off a bicycle placed second. ©2019 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26463 - Posted: 07.30.2019

By Sabine Galvis Scientists looking for a link between repeated brain trauma and lasting neurological damage typically study the brains of soldiers or football players. But it’s unclear whether this damage—known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—is prevalent in the general population. Now, a new study reports those rates for the first time. To conduct the research, neuropathologist Kevin Bieniek, then at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues sorted through nearly 3000 brains donated to the clinic's tissue registry between 2005 and 2016. Then, by scanning obituaries and old yearbooks, the researchers narrowed the group to 300 athletes who played contact sports and 450 nonathletes. The scientists removed all infants under age 1, brain samples with insufficient tissue, and brain donors without biographical data attached to their samples. Finally, they collected medical records and looked under a microscope at tissue from up to three sections of each brain for signs of CTE. Those signs include lesions and buildup of tau, a protein associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Six percent of the brains showed some or all signs of CTE, Bieniek and his colleagues report in Brain Pathology. Not all the people experienced symptoms associated with CTE, at least according to their medical records. Those symptoms include anxiety, depression, and drug use. However, people with CTE were about 31% more likely to develop dementia and 27% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without CTE. © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26388 - Posted: 07.04.2019

By Benedict Carey More than 3 million Americans live with disabling brain injuries. The vast majority of these individuals are lost to the medical system soon after their initial treatment, to be cared for by family or to fend for themselves, managing fatigue, attention and concentration problems with little hope of improvement. On Saturday, a team of scientists reported a glimmer of hope. Using an implant that stimulates activity in key areas of the brain, they restored near-normal levels of brain function to a middle-aged woman who was severely injured in a car accident 18 years ago. Experts said the woman was a test case, and that it was far from clear whether the procedure would prompt improvements for others like her. That group includes an estimated 3 million to 5 million people, many of them veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries. “This is a pilot study,” said Dr. Steven R. Flanagan, the chairman of the department of rehabilitation medicine at NYU Langone Health, who was not part of the research team. “And we certainly cannot generalize from it. But I think it’s a very promising start, and there is certainly more to come in this work.” The woman, now in her early 40s, was a student when the accident occurred. She soon recovered sufficiently to live independently. But she suffered from persistent fatigue and could not read or concentrate for long, leaving her unable to hold a competitive job, socialize much, or resume her studies. “Her life has changed,” said Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine and a member of the study team. “She is much less fatigued, and she’s now reading novels. The next patient might not do as well. But we want keep going to see what happens.” © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 26142 - Posted: 04.15.2019

By Ken Belson and Benedict Carey Experimental brain scans of more than two dozen former N.F.L. players found that the men had abnormal levels of the protein linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated hits to the head. Using positron emission tomography, or PET, scans, the researchers found “elevated amounts of abnormal tau protein” in the parts of the brain associated with the disease, known as C.T.E., compared to men of similar age who had not played football. The authors of the study and outside experts stressed that such tau imaging is far from a diagnostic test for C.T.E., which is likely years away and could include other markers, from blood and spinal fluid. The results of the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, are considered preliminary, but constitute a first step toward developing a clinical test to determine the presence of C.T.E. in living players, as well as early signs and potential risk. Thus far, pathologists have been able to confirm the diagnosis only posthumously, by identifying the tau signature in donated brains. Previous studies had reported elevated levels of the tau signature in single cases. The new study is the first to compare the brains of a group of former players to a control group, using an imaging approach that specifically picks up tau and not other proteins in the brain. “What makes this exciting is that it’s a great first step for imaging C.T.E. in the living, not just looking at single instances, but comparing averages and looking for patterns by comparing groups,” said Kevin Bieniek, director of the Biggs Institute Brain Bank Core at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 26129 - Posted: 04.11.2019

By Abdul-Kareem Ahmed, M.D. “He wouldn’t want to live like this.” The cardiology team consulted us that Sunday evening. A patient was getting sleepy, and weak on one side. The man was 68 years old, not a healthy man, but a strong man. He had suffered a heart attack, again, and had been transferred from another hospital. Because he’d been far from a major medical center, where a wire might have been used to clear the blockage in his coronary arteries, he was treated with the next best method, a blood-thinner, and then sent to us. The drug, tenecteplase, is an enzyme that works by digesting clots. It effectively reverses the problem and is lifesaving for a majority of patients. But in a small minority of patients, it can also cause bleeding. Titrating the thickness of blood is precarious. If your blood is too thick you can clot. If it’s too thin you can bleed. The team had performed a rapid head CT. “He’s not going to make it,” my senior whispered as I scrolled through the fresh images. Our patient was bleeding into his brain, suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. Tenecteplase thinned his blood to save his heart, but it most likely had resulted in injury to his brain. I ran downstairs to examine him. He was big, and bald, and lying peacefully in his bed. With some encouragement, he gave me a grin, though lopsided. His pupils were different sizes, and half his body was paralyzed. But he was completely “there.” I was only one month into residency. Though I knew he was critical, and I knew our next decision would be difficult, I remained optimistic. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25897 - Posted: 01.24.2019

Jon Hamilton It was a question about soccer that got Philip Bayly interested in brain injuries. Bayly, a mechanical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis, was approached by several doctors who wanted advice about some young soccer players they were treating. "They said, 'Well, we've got some kids who have concussions and they want to know if they can go back to play. And we don't know what's happening to their head when they're heading a soccer ball,' " Bayly recalls. Does a header have a big effect or a small one? The doctors thought Bayly might have the answer. "I said, 'That's really interesting. I play soccer and my kids play soccer, and I don't know what's happening when you head a soccer ball either,' " Bayly told them. "But I know how we can find out." So in the early 2000s, Bayly brought soccer players into his lab to figure out precisely how much acceleration their heads experienced when they headed balls hurled at them by a machine. The answer was 15 to 20 times the force of gravity, a relatively minor impact. "Jump up and down you're feeling maybe 4 or 5 G's when you hit the ground," Bayly says. "When you play football, you have a hard collision with someone else, it's maybe 50 to 100 G's." © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25824 - Posted: 12.26.2018

By Kara Manke A single season of high school football may be enough to cause microscopic changes in the structure of the brain, according to a new study by researchers at UC Berkeley, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A 3D representation of a magnetic resonance imaging scan, showing areas in the front and rear of the brain lit up. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans have revealed that playing a single season of high school football can cause microscopic changes in the grey matter in young players’ brains. These changes are located in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as deep inside the brain. The researchers used a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take brain scans of 16 high school players, ages 15 to 17, before and after a season of football. They found significant changes in the structure of the grey matter in the front and rear of the brain, where impacts are most likely to occur, as well as changes to structures deep inside the brain. All participants wore helmets, and none received head impacts severe enough to constitute a concussion. The study, which is the cover story of the November issue of Neurobiology of Disease, is one of the first to look at how impact sports affect the brains of children at this critical age. © 2018 UC Regents

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25740 - Posted: 12.01.2018

Ashley Westerman A single season playing football might be all it takes to change a young athlete's brain. Those are the preliminary findings of research presented this week in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers used special MRI methods to look at nerve bundles in the brain in a study of the brains of 26 young male football players, average age 12, before and after one season. Twenty-six more young males who didn't play football also got MRI scans at the same time to be used as a control group. In the youths who played football, the researchers found that nerve fibers in their corpus callosum — the band that connects the two halves of brain — changed over the season, says lead study author Jeongchul Kim, a research associate in the Radiology Informatics and Imaging Laboratory at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. "We applied here two different imaging approaches," he says. One analyzed the shape of the nerve fibers and the other focused on the integrity of the nerves. Kim says the researchers found some nerve bundles grew longer and other bundles became shorter, or contracted, after the players' initial MRI scans at the beginning of the season. He says they saw no changes in the integrity of the bundles. The team says these results suggest that repeated blows to the head could lead to changes in the shape of the corpus callosum, which is critical to integrating cognitive, motor and sensory functions between the two hemispheres of the brain, during a critical time for brain development in young people. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25739 - Posted: 12.01.2018

By Daniel Ackerman Repeatedly heading a soccer ball exacts a toll on an athlete’s brain. But this cost—measured by the volume of brain cells damaged—is five times greater for women than for men, new research suggests. The study provides a biological explanation for why women report more severe symptoms and longer recovery times than men following brain injuries in sports. Previously some researchers had dismissed female players’ complaints because there was little physiological evidence for the disparity, says Michael Lipton, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a co-author of the paper. Lipton’s team used magnetic resonance imaging to peer into the skulls of 98 adult amateur soccer players—half of them female and half male—who headed the ball with varying frequency during the prior year. For women, eight of the brain’s signal-carrying white matter regions showed structural deterioration, compared with just three such regions in men (damage increased with the number of reported headers). Furthermore, female athletes in the study suffered damage to an average of about 2,100 cubic millimeters of brain tissue, compared with an average of just 400 cubic millimeters in the male athletes. Lipton does not yet know the cause of these sex differences, but he notes two possibilities. Women may suffer stronger whiplash from a cranial blow because they generally have less muscle mass than men to stabilize the neck and skull. Alternatively, a dip in progesterone, a hormone that protects against swelling in the brain, could heighten women’s vulnerability to brain injury during certain phases of their menstrual cycle. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25556 - Posted: 10.10.2018

By Sarah Mervosh A simple rule change in Ivy League football games has led to a significant drop in concussions, a study released this week found. After the Ivy League changed its kickoff rules in 2016, adjusting the kickoff and touchback lines by just five yards, the rate of concussions per 1,000 kickoff plays fell to two from 11, according to the study, which was published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Kickoffs, during which players sprint down the field and can knock into each other at full speed, had previously represented an outsize number of concussions. The study comes amid a broader push to adjust kickoff rules at all levels of football and offers a strong indication that touchbacks can help reduce the risk of head injury in a sport grappling with the competing priorities of entertaining its audience and keeping its players safe. “We see really compelling evidence that, indeed, introducing the experimental kickoff rule seems to be associated with a large reduction in concussions,” said Douglas Wiebe, the lead author of the study and the director of the Penn Injury Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2015, kickoffs during Ivy League games accounted for 6 percent of all plays, but 21 percent of concussions, the study said. So Ivy League football coaches decided to change the rules to encourage kicks into the end zone. Under the new system, teams kicked off from the 40-yard line, instead of the 35, and touchbacks started from the 20-yard line, rather than the 25. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25519 - Posted: 10.02.2018

By Perri Klass, M.D. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a major new guideline on diagnosing and managing head injuries in children on Sept. 4, the product of years of work and extensive evidence review by a large working group of specialists in fields ranging from emergency medicine and epidemiology to sports injuries to neurology and neurosurgery. The guideline, which is the first from the C.D.C. that is specific to mild brain injury in children, advises against the long recovery period, isolated in a dark, quiet room, that has sometimes been used in treatment. “The brain is a somewhat gelatinous, even trembling organ which houses our consciousness,” said Dr. Angela Lumba-Brown, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist who is the co-director of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center, and the first author of the guideline. “It does have resilience, but there are periods in life when it is particularly vulnerable.” Having a truly evidence-based guideline should help clinicians personalize the care that children receive and the ways they gradually reintegrate into activities and sports, she said, rather than applying rigid rules — and should generally encourage an earlier return to non-risky activity. The guideline focuses specifically on what is called mTBI, for “mild traumatic brain injury,” which might otherwise be called concussion. There are studies which show that the way that people think about these head injuries — the kids, the parents, the coaches, the doctors — can actually be affected by which term is used, so that what is called a concussion may not be taken as seriously as what is called a mild traumatic brain injury. Some of these injuries are related to sports, but many involve falls from playground equipment, or in the home, as young children explore their developing physical abilities. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25459 - Posted: 09.17.2018

By Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach A series of attacks with a microwave weapon is the latest theory for what could have sickened or distressed roughly two dozen people associated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba over the past two years. The alleged attacks dominated a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Cuba policy Thursday afternoon. But a panel of State Department officials said there is still no explanation for the reported injuries. “We’re seeing a unique syndrome. I can’t even call it a syndrome. It’s a unique constellation of symptoms and findings, but with no obvious cause,” testified Charles Rosenfarb, the State Department’s medical director. Despite the buzz over microwaves, advanced in news reports in recent days, experts warn that caution is in order. There’s an old scientific aphorism that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. “And they’re not giving the extraordinary evidence. They’re not giving any evidence,” said physicist Peter Zimmerman, an arms control expert and former scientific adviser to the State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. No microwave weapon that affects the brain is known to exist. The FBI has investigated the Cuba cases and found no evidence of a plot. Searches of the U.S. Embassy and other locations in Havana have turned up no sign of a weapon. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 25424 - Posted: 09.08.2018

By William J. Broad During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control. More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare. Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington. The medical team that examined 21 affected diplomats from Cuba made no mention of microwaves in its detailed report published in JAMA in March. But Douglas H. Smith, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a recent interview that microwaves were now considered a main suspect and that the team was increasingly sure the diplomats had suffered brain injury. “Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” he said, “and everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Dr. Smith remarked that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion. Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits — sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety. In particular, a growing number of analysts cite an eerie phenomenon known as the Frey effect, named after Allan H. Frey, an American scientist. Long ago, he found that microwaves can trick the brain into perceiving what seem to be ordinary sounds. The false sensations, the experts say, may account for a defining symptom of the diplomatic incidents — the perception of loud noises, including ringing, buzzing and grinding. Initially, experts cited those symptoms as evidence of stealthy attacks with sonic weapons. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 25410 - Posted: 09.01.2018