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Thread: Study reports decrease in brain size after 5 years of fighting

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    BC, Canada

    Default Study reports decrease in brain size after 5 years of fighting

    Study reports decrease in brain size after 5 years of fighting - Mixed Martial Arts News

    A long term study in brain trauma and professional fighters is underway in Las Vegas, Nevada. A preliminary paper has been published, with some sobering results.

    The study concluded that the volumes of important regions of the brain and the functional connections between them were decreased in amateur and professional fighters with the most experience.

    These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    There was unfortunately no distinction made between MMA fighters and professional boxers. Given the differences in rules and goals between the sports, and the vast differences in typical amateur career, grouping them does not seem rational.

    Among 104 boxers and 135 mixed martial arts competitors, the number of years of pro fighting correlated significantly with reduced volume in the caudate and amygdala, and strong trends were seen toward smaller volumes in the thalamus and putamen, reported Sarah Banks, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

    Resting state functional MRI scans also indicated a correlation between lower connectivity between regions and the amount of fighting experience, she told attendees at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting.

    Longitudinal data are not yet available, but Banks provided a largely qualititative overview of the cross-sectional data collected in the project so far.

    The average career length at enrollment was 4 years and the mean number of self-reported fights was 11. Banks noted that the frequency of fights varied considerably, such that career length and number of fights did not correlate exactly.

    Up to about year 5 of fight experience, volumes of all regions did not vary.

    With experience beyond year 5, however, volumes declined -- most sharply for the caudate region of the brain. In that region, volumes were 10% lower in participants with 15 years of experience compared with those fighting for 5 years or less.

    Volumes were lower by about 5% for the amygdala and putamen.

    There was a lesser trend toward smaller volumes with experience in the thalamus and no hint of a relationship in the hippocampus.

    Caudate volumes and years of fighting experience were more strongly related in participants who said they began fighting in earnest at age 15 or younger, Banks said. In that subgroup, caudate volumes were smaller by 0.37% for each bout reported by participants. In contrast, the reduction was only 0.10% per bout for participants who said they began fighting after age 15.
    And if you want beef, then bring the ruckus

  2. #2


    Interesting results.
    I'm sure when it is published, it will have a subgroup analysis that presents the findings of MMA fighters and boxers separately. It literally takes 10 seconds to spit out the results separately for both.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    That's some data I would love to mine. Could see whether there was any difference between fighters who suffer KO's, TKO's, maybe even punches absorbed per minute.

    Zombie is born!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    Not hard to believe if you understand how concussions work. Everytime you get a concussion it is from your brain hitting the inside of your skull thus killing brain cells. Do this hundreds if not thousands of times and you do the math. Suspensions put in place to prevent such damage from multiplying and potentially severely injuring the fighters are in place but nothing is full proof. If you get KO'd and get a 90 day suspension, it doesn't mean that your brain fully recovered.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Not at all surprising but i hope future studies incorporate head strike data from fightmetric, compustrike, etc instead of just # of fights. Does any one know if boxing studies of this nature have been done using raw striking data?

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