MRI Study Reveals Significant Brain Changes in Adolescent Football Players

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by Diagnosticimaging.

Emerging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research suggests that adolescent football players are susceptible to a variety of brain changes due to head impact exposure from the sport.

For the study, recently published in JAMA Network Open, researchers reviewed findings from structural MRI for 205 high-school football players and 70 high-school athletes who participated in non-contact sports such as swimming and tennis. The study authors also assessed resting-state functional MRI scans for 149 football players and 59 participants from non-contact sports.

In comparison to athletes in non-contact sports, the study authors noted the MRI findings for football players revealed deeper sulcal depth in “widespread brain regions,” including the frontotemporal regions, precentral gyrus, and the cingulate cortex. Noting a “water hammer effect” from traumatic insult with a rapid clustering of cerebral spinal fluid at the base of the sulci, the researchers noted the resulting potential for accelerated tissue atrophy.

“These findings shed light on the potential impact of mechanical stressors on brain structure and provide valuable insights into the dynamics of cortical changes in individuals engaged in football,” wrote lead study author Taylor Zuidema, a Ph.D. candidate who is affiliated with the Department of Kinesiology and the Program in Neuroscience at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and colleagues.


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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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