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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Evidence for Acute Electrophysiological and Cognitive Changes Following Routine Soccer Heading
Author(s): Di Virgilio, Thomas G
Hunter, Angus
Wilson, Lindsay
Stewart, William
Goodall, Stuart
Howatson, Glyn
Donaldson, David I
Ietswaart, Magdalena
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Keywords: Sports concussion
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
Traumatic brain injury
Issue Date: Nov-2016
Citation: Di Virgilio T, Hunter A, Wilson L, Stewart W, Goodall S, Howatson G, Donaldson D & Ietswaart M (2016) Evidence for Acute Electrophysiological and Cognitive Changes Following Routine Soccer Heading, EBioMedicine, 13, pp. 66-71.
Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in TBI
Grant Agreement No 602150-2
Development of a novel technology-based biomarker for identification of mild traumatic brain injury
Abstract: Introduction  There is growing concern around the effects of concussion and sub-concussive impacts in sport. Routine game-play in soccer involves intentional and repeated head impacts through ball heading. Although heading is frequently cited as a risk to brain health, little data exist regarding the consequences of this activity. This study aims to assess the immediate outcomes of routine football heading using direct and sensitive measures of brain function.  Methods  Nineteen amateur football players (5 females; age 22±3 y) headed machine-projected soccer balls at standardized speeds, modelling routine soccer practice. The primary outcome measure of corticomotor inhibition measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation, was assessed prior to heading and repeated immediately, 24 h, 48 h and 2 weeks post-heading. Secondary outcome measures were cortical excitability, postural control, and cognitive function.  Results  Immediately following heading an increase in corticomotor inhibition was detected; further to these electrophysiological alterations, measurable reduction memory function were also found. These acute changes appear transient, with values normalizing 24 h post-heading.  Discussion  Sub-concussive head impacts routine in soccer heading are associated with immediate, measurable electrophysiological and cognitive impairments. Although these changes in brain function were transient, these effects may signal direct consequences of routine soccer heading on (long-term) brain health which requires further study.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.029
Rights: © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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