Recent quotes:

Elevations in MicroRNA Biomarkers in Serum Are Associated with Measures of Concussion, Neurocognitive Function and Subconcussive Trauma over a single NCAA Division I Season in Collegiate Football Players | Journal of Neurotrauma

All the athletes had elevated levels of circulating miRNAs at the beginning of the season compared to control subjects (p<0.001). Athletes with the lowest standard assessment of concussion (SAC) scores at the beginning of the season had the highest levels of miRNAs. The AUC for predicting pre-season SAC scores were miR-195 (0.90), miR-20a (0.89), miR-151-5p (0.86), miR-505* (0.85), miR-9-3p (0.77) and miR-362-3p (0.76). In athletes with declining neurocognitive function over the season, concentrations of miRNAs increased over same period. There were significant negative correlations with miR-505* (p=0.011), miR-30d (p=0.007), miR-92 (p=0.033), and miR-151-5p (p=0.008). The miRNAs correlating with balance problems were miR-505* (p=0.007), miR-30d (p=0.028), and miR-151-5p (p=0.023). Those correlating with poor reaction times were miR-20a (0.043), miR-505* (p=0.049), miR-30d (p=0.031), miR-92 (p=0.015), and miR-151-5p (p=0.044). Select miRNAs were associated with baseline concussion assessments at the beginning of the season and with neurocognitive changes from pre to post-season in collegiate football players.

New study finds evidence of brain injuries in football players at surprisingly young age: College football players found to have cognitive issues and blood biomarkers indicating brain injuries -- ScienceDaily

The study tested biomarkers in the blood called microRNA's and found that the college football players had elevated levels of these biomarkers that indicate concussions before the season even started. "It was quite shocking to learn that the biomarkers were high before they were even involved in one hit or tackle for the season," said Linda Papa, MD, lead author of the study and emergency medicine physician at Orlando Health "This suggests that the effects of past head injuries are persisting over time." Researchers also conducted cognitive tests with each study participant before and after the season and found that those who struggled with balance and memory had higher levels of the biomarkers. "Some of these players had never been diagnosed with a concussion but they still had elevated biomarker levels in their blood, indicating they likely experienced head injuries that were not severe enough to be clinically diagnosed, but still caused damage. These injuries are also known as subconcussive injuries," said Papa. Papa says that these biomarkers can potentially help identify those less severe head injuries so that players can get the proper treatment.

Engage multiple layers to rebuild a brain

The researchers placed mice in a dark box and trained them to search for a nearby object with their whiskers. When the mice detected the object, they pulled a lever with their paw to dispense water as a reward. Conventional wisdom argued that this kind of detection task depends almost entirely on a functioning sensory cortex — in this case, the barrel cortex. To confirm this was true, the researchers used laser light to temporarily turn off barrel-cortex cells, a popular technique known as optogenetics. As expected, animals had difficulty whisking while the cells were turned off. And when the team then permanently removed their barrel cortex, the animals could not perform the task the next day. But on day two, the animals’ performance suddenly recovered to original levels. “This came as a huge surprise, since it suggested that tactile sensation, such as whisker-based touch, may not completely rely on the cortex,” said Dr. Hong. “These findings challenge the commonly held, cortex-centric view of how the brain drives touch perception.”

Study identifies distinct origin of ADHD in children with history of brain injury -- ScienceDaily

The researchers also looked for hallmark abnormalities in brain structure associated with the disorder. The association between volumes of ADHD-related brain structures and ADHD symptom severity was similar between the two groups. However, an analysis of the connections bridging the two brain hemispheres revealed opposite relationships with ADHD symptoms between the groups. The structural findings indicate the presence of both similar and distinct neural mechanisms that cause ADHD after TBI.

Study of Retired NFL and NHL Players Doesn't Find Evidence of Early Onset Dementia - Neuroscience News

The assessments of cognitive function (e.g., memory, attention, visual spatial orientation), executive function and mental health in the retired athletes didn’t reveal statistically significant impairment compared to controls. The researchers did find evidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in more of the retired athletes than the controls, but said the rate was as expected for the age, education level and body mass index of the athletes, all factors that can raise the risk of MCI; it also was not statistically significant. Advanced brain imaging detected no microscopic or macroscopic brain tissue injury differences in retired athletes versus the controls. The non-contact sport athletes were found to have a higher rate of microbleeds in the brain but these results only approached statistical significance.

Researchers Watch Brain's Lining Heal After Head Injury - Neuroscience News

“The lining of the brain, with help from the immune system, has a remarkable ability to put itself back together again after injury,” said Dorian McGavern, Ph.D., scientist at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the senior author of the study published in Nature Immunology. “As we learn more about all the cells involved in the repair process, we may be able to identify potential targets for therapy that lead to better outcomes for patients.” The study came about from an observation on MRI scans of adult patients who experienced a concussion or mTBI. Around half of patients with mTBI show evidence of injury to blood vessels in the meninges, which appears on MRI scans as a vascular dye leaking out of the damaged vessels. The meninges are a collection of membranes that line the central nervous system and help protect brain and spinal cord tissue from various forms of injury. Damage to the meninges can cause cell death in underlying brain tissue.

When the brain's wiring breaks: Key molecular details of a common type of brain injury and a possible new treatment strategy -- ScienceDaily

"Neurologists know this," said Taylor, a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center. "It's why they promote physical therapy and retraining for people who suffer head injury. During this extended period of excitability, PT and retraining can help guide injured neurons along beneficial pathways."

Association of Playing High School Football with Cognition and Mental Health Later in Life | BrainLine

Among the 3904 men in the study, after matching and model-based covariate adjustment, compared with each control condition, there was no statistically significant harmful association of playing football with a reduced composite cognition score or an increased modified Center for Epidemiological Studies’ Depression Scale depression score. After adjustment for multiple testing, playing football did not have a significant adverse association with any of the secondary outcomes, such as the likelihood of heavy alcohol use at 65 years of age. Cognitive and depression outcomes later in life were found to be similar for high school football players and their nonplaying counterparts from mid-1950s in Wisconsin.

Lifelong behavioral and neuropathological consequences of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury - Mouzon - 2018 - Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology - Wiley Online Library

In this context, our current data demonstrate, for the first time, that rather than an acute, time limited event, mild TBI can precipitate a lifelong degenerative process. These data therefore suggest that successful treatment strategies should consider both the acute and chronic nature of mTBI.

Why head and face pain causes more suffering: Sensory neurons in the head and face tap directly into the brain's emotional pathways -- ScienceDaily

The team found that sensory neurons that serve the head and face are wired directly into one of the brain's principal emotional signaling hubs. Sensory neurons elsewhere in the body are also connected to this hub, but only indirectly. The results may pave the way toward more effective treatments for pain mediated by the craniofacial nerve, such as chronic headaches and neuropathic face pain. "Usually doctors focus on treating the sensation of pain, but this shows the we really need to treat the emotional aspects of pain as well," said Fan Wang, a professor of neurobiology and cell biology at Duke, and senior author of the study. The results appear online Nov. 13 in Nature Neuroscience.

Traumatic brain injury causes intestinal damage, study shows: Two-way brain-gut interactions may worsen outcome after TBI -- ScienceDaily

This is the first study to find that TBI in mice can trigger delayed, long-term changes in the colon and that subsequent bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal system can increase posttraumatic brain inflammation and associated tissue loss. The findings were published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. "These results indicate strong two-way interactions between the brain and the gut that may help explain the increased incidence of systemic infections after brain trauma and allow new treatment approaches," said the lead researcher, Alan Faden, MD, the David S. Brown Professor in Trauma in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurosurgery at UMSOM, and director of the UMSOM Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research Center.

Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Predicts Later-Life Depression, Apathy, Executive Dysfunction, and Cognitive Impairment in Former High School and College Football Players

The investigation of RHI has most commonly been in contact sports, such as American football. More than 4,500,000 amateur athletes participate in tackle football each year,12,13 and this sport has one of the highest rates of concussion.14,15 Surveys of high school and college athletes show that ∼50% of football players sustain a concussion each year, and >30% sustain multiple concussions.14,16,17 Subconcussive events are likely even more frequent, as helmet-based accelerometer studies estimate that amateur football players average 600 subconcussive impacts per season in high school and >1000 at the collegiate level.3 The high prevalence of concussive and subconcussive events in amateur football players is concerning, given their reported association with acute18–20 and chronic21–25 neurological consequences. Repetitive subconcussive blows (measured by helmet accelerometer sensors recording events that exceed 14.4g10) are associated with pre- to post-season cognitive decline,10,26 functional brain alterations (e.g., reduced neurophysiological health),10,26,27 and microstructural white matter brain changes28 in high school football players.

Brain connectivity disruptions may explain cognitive deficits in people with brain injury | EurekAlert! Science News

A study recently published in the Journal of International Neuropsychological Society found that individuals who are at least six months post-injury exhibit between-network, long-range and inter-hemispheric connectivity disruptions. Specifically, scientists observed TBI-related connectivity disruptions in the default mode and dorsal attention networks and the default mode and frontoparietal control networks; interactions among the networks are key to achieving daily life goals.