Questions for ‘It doesn’t take a concussion for head hits to harm young brains’

a Black teen football player faces the camera wearing his helmet and pads

Young football players aged 10 to 14 can sustain hundreds of head impacts per season, a new study finds.

Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision.

To accompany “It doesn’t take a concussion for head hits to harm young brains


Before Reading:

  1. Think back to what you were during this time last year. Since then, do you think you’ve changed a lot or only a little? In what ways has your thinking changed? Do you think you make better decisions today, or worse? What changes in your body do you think could be driving these differences?
  2. Every day you make lots of decisions. You choose what to eat, what to wear and how to spend your free time. In what ways might your choices affect the health of your brain? Identify a daily decision that you think might be good for your brain’s health. Next, identify a decision that you think could pose risks to your brain’s health.   

During Reading:

  1. What is a concussion, and what events can cause one?
  2. What was magnetic resonance imaging used for in this study? What types of tissues did scientists examine?
  3. To what does Elizabeth Davenport make the analogy of a water hose carrying water? What does the hose represent? What does the water represent?
  4. In the new study, what types of athletes were selected as the control group? What is a control group? Why were they chosen?
  5. What major difference did the new study show between head impacts during practice compared with during games?
  6. Identify two things that are “going on” in adolescent brains that could be disrupted by the observed changes, according to Ravi Menon.
  7. What does Menon mean by the word “plasticity”? What impact could plasticity have on the types of brain changes mentioned throughout this article?

After Reading:

  1. What would you investigate if you had access to the MRI used in this study and you could understand the images? If you could choose, would you rather investigate your own brain or someone else’s brain? Why?
  2. Why do you think the authors are interested in studying differences in white matter between different types of athletes? What other types of athletes do you think should be tested? List all the sports that you can think of in one minute. Based on the findings in this study, which sports do you believe would show the greatest brain differences when compared to a control? Explain your prediction based on the results you read the new study.