Head Games: Research Finds Injury From Contact Sport Has Harmful, Though Temporary Effect on Memory
McMaster University neuroscientists studying sports-related head injuries have found that it takes less than a full concussion to cause memory loss, possibly because even mild trauma can interrupt the production of new neurons in a region of the brain responsible for memory.
Though such losses are temporary, the findings raise questions about the long-term effects of repeated injuries and the academic performance of student athletes.
The researchers spent months following dozens of athletes involved in high-contact sports such as rugby and football, and believe that concussions and repetitive impact can interrupt neurogenesis — or the creation of new neurons — in the hippocampus, a vulnerable region of the brain critical to memory.
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