The More You Fight – The Smaller Your Brain?

A study was conducted of 93 boxers and 131 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, who fought on average of 4 years (0-24 years) and 10 fights (0-101) and also included a control group of 22 age- and education-matched controls without a history of head trauma or contact sport.

The study found that the greater the amount of head trauma (number of professional fights or years of professional fighting), was associated with lower brain volumes (most often the thalamus – involved in sensory perception and motor processing – and caudate nuclei – involved in motor control, learning and memory) and lower brain processing speeds. For the most part, boxers’ structural brain volumes were smaller than MMA and control groups – the authors speculate this was due to more frequent head injuries they experience as achieving a concussion is a primary target of boxing.

This is interesting to keep in mind if watching a re-run of the SBS Insight Program, Fight Club.

British Journal of Sports Medicine Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093877

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