News: The midbrain in humans controls “functions such as hearing and temperature regulation.” But, because of its location–in the middle of the brain–this area is “likely to sustain damage” when a person suffers a hit to their head.
A recent study that tracked football players (American football) at the University of Rochester in New York (NCAA Division III) found that though only 2 of the 38 subjects were judged to have received an actual concussion, more than 67% of the subjects “showed changes to the integrity of the white matter of their midbrains” from hits to the head that the players received during practices and games over 1 season.
“Researchers also found the same MRI signature of injury in the midbrain in a separate cohort [of subjects] with diagnosed concussions.”
What does this mean?
The research shows that it does not take an actual concussion for a football player to receive damage to their brain–damage similar to that of players who do receive actual concussions. “Normal” hits to the head sustained in practices and games can cause the same damage.
Should anyone be playing American football?
Learn more: Just one season of playing football–even without a concussion–can cause brain damage (Eva Frederick, Science, 7 August 2019).
Go to the source: A common neural signature of brain injury in concussion and subconcussion (Adnan A. Hirad, et al., Science Advances, 7 August 2019).