Latest Research News

A randomized clinical trial involving 103 teenage athletes who sustained concussions while playing sports found that those who underwent a supervised, aerobic exercise program took significantly less time to recover compared to those who instead engaged in mild stretching.

New method finds undetected brain impairments in ice hockey players with and without diagnosed concussions

The American Academy of Pediatric now supports children and teens engaging in light physical activity and returning to school as they recover. It also now advises against complete removal of electronic devices, such as television, computers and smartphones, following a concussion.

"We've learned that keeping kids in dark rooms and eliminating all cognitive and physical activity actually worsened a lot of kids' symptoms rather than improving them."

Can stronger necks reduce concussion risk & severity?

A review of research on the role that the neck’s strength, size, and posture play in reducing concussion risk has concluded that neck strength, size, and posture may reduce risk by lessening the magnitude of force upon impact. It’s suggested that exercises that increase neck strength and possibly size could substantially reduce risk or severity of injury.

A review of nearly 2.8 million patient cases in Denmark found that the risk of dementia in individuals with a history of TBI was 24% higher than those without a history of TBI, after accounting for other risk factors.

Risk was greater when the TBI was characterized as "severe" — 35% compared to an increased risk of 17% for a single "mild" TBI or concussion.

Moreover, dementia risk increased 33% higher for two or three TBIs, 61% higher for four TBIs, and 183% higher for five or more TBIs.

A study showing that a certain type of instructor-led brain training protocol can stimulate structural changes in the brain and neural connections even years after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) challenges the widely held belief that recovery from a TBI is limited to two years after an injury.

The study included 60 adults with TBI symptoms lasting an average of eight years. Participants were randomly placed into one of two cognitive training groups:

Key points that are new in the 5th International Consensus statement on concussion in sport:

A small study involving 71 adults who struggled with persistent cognitive difficulties after suffering a traumatic brain injury at least four months before has compared two cognitive training programs with and without drug therapy.

The two six-week programs were

A pilot study involving 22 breast cancer patients currently receiving chemotherapy (mean age 54), has found that those with higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers did significantly worse on tests for short-term visual memory. One particular biomarker — tumor necrosis factor-alpha (as reflected through its two soluble receptors, TNFRI and TNFRII) — was the strongest indicator of cognitive problems.

A pilot study involving 106 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project who had experienced a stroke followed participants for an average of 5.9 years, testing their cognitive function and monitoring their eating habits using food journals. It was found that those whose diets scored highest on the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet score had substantially slower rates of cognitive decline than those who scored lowest.

A pilot study involving 41 military veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD has found that one month of transcendental meditation produced dramatic benefits, with 37 (80%) having their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level, and 40 having a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points.

A test 90 days later also showed that PTSD symptoms continued to improve, and a further three individuals had dropped to below the clinical level.

A laboratory study has found that sleeping after watching a trauma event reduced emotional distress and memories related to traumatic events. The laboratory study involved 65 women being shown a neutral and a traumatic video. Typically, recurring memories of certain images haunted the test subjects for a few days (these were recorded in detail in a diary). Some participants slept in the lab for a night after the video, while the other group remained awake.

A randomized clinical trial of 268 active-duty personnel seeking treatment for PTSD has found that individual sessions of cognitive processing therapy were twice as effective as group sessions.

Participants were assigned to CPT in either 90-minute group sessions or 60-minute individual sessions twice weekly for six weeks. PTSD severity was reduced significantly more in those receiving individual treatment, however improvements were maintained during the six-month follow-up in both groups. Depression and suicidal ideation also improved equally with both forms of CPT.

A pilot study involving 23 military veterans with PTSD found that those who received mindfulness training showed reduced PTSD symptoms, and brain changes that suggest a greater ability to shift and control attention. Mindfulness training was given to 14 veterans, while the other 9 received ‘control’ group support. Both groups were given brain scans before and after the treatment program.

An interesting new theory for PTSD suggests that the root of the problem lies in context processing problems.

Context processing allows people and animals to recognize that a particular stimulus may require different responses depending on the context in which it is encountered. So, for example, a lion in the zoo evokes a different response than one encountered in your backyard.

Following previous research showing that having a smaller

A study involving 88 women, some of whom had endocrinological disorders, has found that, while some hormones were associated with changes across one menstrual cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects didn't repeat in the following cycle. In other words, there was no consistent effect of hormonal changes on cognition. This is not to say that some individuals might not be consistently affected, just that it doesn’t appear to be a general rule.

Chemo-brain common among women with breast cancer

A study involving 581 breast cancer patients and 364 healthy age-matched people (mean age 53) has found that women with breast cancer reported significantly greater cognitive difficulties for up to six months after chemotherapy. Cognitive difficulties were evaluated using FACT-Cog, an assessment that examines a person's own perceived impairment as well as cognitive impairment perceived by others.

Can you help protect yourself from the memory of traumatic events? A new study suggests that, by concentrating on concrete details as you live through the event, you can reduce the number of intrusive memories later experienced.

A German study involving 1,936 older adults (50+) has found that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) occurred twice as often in those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A systematic literature review of computerized training for attention and executive function in adults who suffered a brain injury (TBI or stroke) has concluded that there is encouraging evidence that such programs can help.

In the study, mice were repeatedly given extremely mild concussive impacts while anesthetized. The brain's response to a single concussion was compared with an injury received daily for 30 days and one received weekly over 30 weeks.

Mice with a single insult temporarily lost 10-15% of their neuronal connections (dendritic spines), but there was no inflammation or cell death. With three days rest, all neuronal connections were restored.

We know that traumatic brain injury increases the risk of later developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, but we haven't known why. New mouse studies suggest a reason.

Adding to evidence that the standard assessments are inadequate to determine whether concussed athletes are fit to return to action, an advanced MRI technique that detects blood flow in the brain shows that hat brain abnormalities persist beyond the point of clinical recovery after injury.

The study compared 18 concussed players and 19 non-concussed players. For the concussed players, MRI was taken within 24 hours of the injury and eight days afterward. Baselines were taken before the football season.

Brain imaging while 11 individuals with traumatic brain injury and 15 healthy controls performed a

A study involving 30 children (aged 8-10), of whom 15 had experienced a sports-related concussion two years earlier, and all of whom were athletically active, found that those with a history of concussion performed worse on tests of

An online national survey of 2,012 adult Americans (of whom 948 were parents) has found that, while the vast majority (87%) don’t know the definition of a concussion and many don’t know the injury is treatable, there is a high level of concern and even fear across the country.

Data from 23,572 Americans from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study has revealed that those who survived a stroke went on to have significantly faster rates of cognitive decline as they aged.

Participants, who were aged 45 years or older, had no history of cognitive impairment at the beginning of the population-based study. Over the next five to seven years, 515 of them (2%) had a stroke.

A study involving older adults has found that diabetes was associated with higher levels of tau protein and greater brain atrophy.

The study involved 816 older adults (average age 74), of whom 397 had mild cognitive impairment, 191 had Alzheimer's disease, and 228 people had no cognitive problems. Fifteen percent (124) had diabetes.

Those with diabetes had greater levels of tau protein in the spinal and brain fluid regardless of cognitive status. Tau tangles are characteristic of Alzheimer's.

Training in a mental imagery technique has been found to help multiple sclerosis patients in two memory domains often affected by the disease: autobiographical memory and episodic future thinking.

A meta-analysis of studies reporting brain activity in individuals with a diagnosis of PTSD has revealed differences between the brain activity of individuals with PTSD and that of groups of both trauma-exposed (those who had experienced trauma but didn't have a diagnosis of PTSD) and trauma-naïve (those who hadn't experienced trauma) participants.

Cognitive impairment affects 40-65% of people with MS. Why? In the past year, a number of studies have helped us build a better picture of the precise nature of cognitive problems that may affect multiple sclerosis sufferers:

A six-week study involving 619 cancer patients has found that those who took part in a simple home-based exercise program significantly reduced their cognitive impairment ('chemo-brain'). The EXCAP (Exercise for Cancer Patients) was developed by the researchers some years ago, and this evaluation was a phase III randomized study for early-stage chemotherapy patients. Half the group were given standard care (no exercise during chemotherapy), while the others were given instruction to walk daily and carry out low-to-moderate resistance band training for 10 minutes, 5 days a week.

In 2013 I reported how a 3-second interruption while doing a task doubled the rate of sequence errors, while a 4s one tripled it. A new study has attempted to measure just how much ongoing interruptions can negatively affect the quality of a complex creative task.

Analysis of post-mortem with and without dementia has found lipopolysaccharide, a component of an oral bacterium (Porphyromonas gingivalis), in four out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease brain samples, but not in any of the 10 brains of people who didn’t have Alzheimer’s.

Gingivitis is extremely common, and about 64% of American seniors (65+) have moderate or severe periodontal disease.

The finding adds to evidence linking gum disease and Alzheimer’s.

In my book on remembering intentions, I spoke of how quickly and easily your thoughts can be derailed, leading to ‘action slips’ and, in the wrong circumstances, catastrophic mistakes. A new study shows how a 3-second interruption while doing a task doubled the rate of sequence errors, while a 4s one tripled it.

Stress is a major cause of workplace accidents, and most of us are only too familiar with the effects of acute stress on our thinking. However, although the cognitive effects are only too clear, research has had little understanding of how stress has this effect. A new rat study sheds some light.

We know that stress has a complicated relationship with learning, but in general its effect is negative, and part of that is due to stress producing anxious thoughts that clog up

A new study has found that, when delivered quickly, a modified form of prolonged exposure therapy reduces post-traumatic stress reactions and depression.

American football has been in the news a lot in recent years, as evidence has accumulated as to the brain damage incurred by professional footballers. But American football is a high-impact sport. Soccer is quite different. And yet the latest research reveals that even something as apparently unexceptional as bouncing a ball off your forehead can cause damage to your brain, if done often enough.

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