Desert Companion

Head shots: Studying flighters' brains

brain_punch.jpg

Brain Punch
Illustration by Brent Holmes

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor may want to pause their hypestorm (see page 36) to read a new report from the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. According to its five-year study of 438 active fighters, retired fighters, and nonfighters, active fighters show elevated levels of two protein markers of long-term brain injury in their blood — components of nerve fibers dislodged when the fibers are damaged. One of the proteins, called tau, is linked to shrinkage of the thalamus, which regulates consciousness, alertness, and cognitive function. the study isn’t finished, says its author, Dr. Charles Bernick. Researchers need to refine their understanding of how the proteins “may be used to monitor traumatic brain injury and the neurological consequences over time.”

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