College football players have visible brain changes | Reuters

The researchers write in JAMA that they didn’t find any differences in behavior between players and non-players, but Bellgowan told Reuters Health that a smaller hippocampus is linked to depression, schizophrenia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

SOURCE: bit.ly/WddS8K JAMA, online May 13, 2014.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The brains of college football players may already display the effects of years of taking hits, according to a new brain imaging study.

The participants had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their brains and researchers used the images to measure the volume of certain brain regions. The athletes also took a computerized test to assess their cognitive abilities.

For now, Bellgowan suggested that parents and coaches take a conservative approach when dealing with student athletes by taking them to specialists when they walk off the field with a headache.

“Maybe there is something going on early on,” he said. Those who had been diagnosed with concussions also had smaller hippocampuses than the players without past concussions.

Both Bellgowan and Bazarian said it will take longer studies to find out whether a smaller hippocampus may cause problems for these athletes in the future.

“Boys hear about the long-term effect on guys when they’re retired from football, but this shows that 20-year-olds might be having some kind of effect,” said Patrick Bellgowan, the study’s senior author from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bazarian was not involved with the new research, but has studied the brains of young athletes at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.. “Maybe this is just the precursor of it.”

Bellgowan is also on the faculty at the University of Tulsa, where, he said, “Participation of the athletic department was essential to this work.”

There has been growing concern over whether the connection between contact sports – like football – and CTE, which is a brain disease known to affect some athletes who experience repeated hits to the head, may extend to younger players.

Between June 2011 and August 2013 the researchers recruited 25 college football players who had been diagnosed with a concussion, 25 players without a history of diagnosed concussion and 25 similar young men who had never played.

“The conservative approach is what I’m hoping to get out there,” he said.

The symptoms of CTE, which tend to set in years after the last traumas, often include memory loss, aggression and dementia.

Players who had been diagnosed with concussions and those who had been playing for years had smaller hippocampuses – a brain structure critical to memory – compared to those who never played football or played for fewer years, researchers found.

“People try to understand why some NFL players have what looks like Alzheimer’s in their forties,” Dr. “None of these players were feeling bad but their brain structure isn’t normal.”

“We keep hearing about retired football players having diseases that relate back to smaller hippocampuses,” Bellgowan said. “How did they get there? I think this study points out the early stages of that.”

The longer the young men had played football, the smaller their hippocampuses were and the slower their reaction time on one of the tests.

The researchers found that college athletes had hippocampuses between 17 percent and 26 percent smaller than non-athletes. Jeffrey Bazarian said

Top 10 Sports Colleges

University of Georgia

With rigorous academic requirements for all athletes, Georgia is setting the pace for a new paradigm of scholarships among its top level football, baseball, gymnastics, tennis, and swim teams.

6. Stanford University

With an impressive record in virtually every varsity sport, this Ivy League school holds the top ranking among sports colleges. They’re especially known for their excellence in football, as well as putting forward strong contenders in track and baseball.

9. Stanford has brought home the NACDA Director’s Cup award for Division I sports for the past 15 years, qualifying it as best overall for collegiate sports in the United States.

2. Florida State University

Florida State is a top contender in a number of college athletics programs, including football, basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, and diving. They finished 5th in the 2009-2010 NACDA reckoning of sports colleges, placing them in the top 5 for the first time.

10. University of Virginia

The Cavaliers raced to top positions in women’s rowing and men’s soccer in the past year, among the school’s other sporting achievements.

College sports have captured the hearts of millions of Americans, from loyal students and alumni cheering on their schools to local businesses and fans. University of Southern California

Southern California is best known for its varsity football team, which has won 11 championships, but also excels in basketball and a host of other college athletics.

4. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

One of the country’s most widely recognized sports schools, UCLA was the first university to win over 100 NCAA championships, making the Bruins a fixture among the top basketball schools. The Gators are also known for their strong contenders in football, men’s basketball, and women’s golf, soccer, football, tennis, and volleyball.

7. The school is also known for victories in men’s diving, swimming, golf, track, gymnastics, men’s and women’s fencing, and more.

With a staff of over 100 coaches and assistants, 34 varsity sports, and about 300 athletic scholarships, it’s no wonder this school presented 49 athletes in the 2008 Beijing Winter Olympics and has over 9,000 students enrolled in intramural sports in any given semester.

3. UCLA is also renowned for its women’s sports performances, with the softball, track, gymnastics, and rowing teams excelling in 2009-2010.. Whether you follow college baseball, football, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, or other varsity athletics, these are some of the top universities to beat:

1. Ohio State University

Ohio State has brought home championship wins in all three of the biggest men’s sports: basketball, football, and baseball. University of North Carolina

North Carolina has won 51 titles and 34 national championships in 6 different sports, making its mark as one of the top sports colleges in the United States. University of Texas

This Texas school has won more titles than any other school in the Big 12 League since it was founded in 1996. The university is known for its basketball team, as well as women’s soccer, women’s field hockey, and men’s lacrosse.

With the widespread popularity of college sports teams, and the consistent successes of each of these colleges on the field and in the stadium, it’s no wonder these top 10 sports schools garner the support and spirit of students and fans all over the nation.

8. University of Florida

Florida is renowned in a number of varsity sports, notably excelling in women’s swimming and men’s track and field in the 2009-2010 season. 5

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