Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Psychology eTheses
Title: Watch your head: brain neurophysiology and contact sports
Author(s): Ntikas, Michail
Supervisor(s): Ietswaart, Magdalena
Donaldson, David
Kourtis, Dimitrios
Wilson, Lindsay
Issue Date: Sep-2022
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Ntikas, M., Binkofski, F., Shah, N. J., & Ietswaart, M. (2022). Repeated Sub-Concussive Impacts and the Negative Effects of Contact Sports on Cognition and Brain Integrity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(12), 7098. MDPI AG. Retrieved from
Lember L-M, Ntikas M, Mondello S, et al. Effects of sport-related repetitive subconcussive head impacts on biofluid markers: a scoping review protocol. BMJ Open 2021;11:e046452. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-046452
Abstract: In the world of contact sports there is rising concern about the long-term effects of sport participation on athletes’ brains. Apart from concussions, the repetitive subconcussive head impacts (RSHI) in sports have been suggested to be detrimental for brain health. RSHI in football are thought to be linked with the onset of neurodegenerative diseases, like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Alzheimer’s disease. However, to understand how and why the athletes’ brains might suffer in the long-term, we should first understand the acute brain changes caused by the potential risk factors for brain damage (concussive and sub-concussive impacts). The experimental studies of this PhD thesis aim to investigate the acute effects of heading, the main source of RSHI in football, on the brain functions of athletes, by using a mixture of sensitive neuroscientific modalities. Secondary data is used in this thesis for method development and to examine the broader problem posed by sport-related head impact. Chapter 1 expands on the aims of the thesis. Chapter 2 presents the current state of the literature on RSHI. Chapter 3 includes a scoping review of the literature on biofluid markers use to assess the effects of RSHI highlighting the high heterogeneity of the existing studies and providing guidelines for future studies. Chapter 4 includes an investigation of the injury characteristics and prognosis of sport-related traumatic brain injury (TBI). It highlights the seriousness of sport-related TBI and specifically sport-related mTBI, whose remaining effects can potentially be worsened by the burden of RSHI during play. Chapter 5 investigated the effects of RSHI on balance in various ways, providing no evidence of an effect, while chapter 6 provides evidence for associative memory changes caused by heading. The following chapters (7 & 8) attempted to further examine the alterations in cognitive functioning post heading and present the first EEG evidence that the cognitive functions of attention, memory and learning are acutely affected by RSHI. After showing that RSHI affect mainly association learning and attention processes and not affect response inhibition, motor control and motor learning, chapter 9 aimed to examine the replicability of RSHI effects on motor cortex inhibition, providing evidence of no effect. The outcome of this thesis is that RSHI have detrimental effects to athletes’ cognition, mainly in the functions of learning and attention, while motor control appears to remain intact.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Thesis_MN.pdf4.57 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.