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Teens Fare Worst After Concussions

Concussions affect the thinking of teenagers more than they do that of adults or children, according to a new study. But all three age groups show lasting problems with working memory after sports concussions.

People use working memory for reading, problem solving and manipulating information. It's controlled by the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain. And that part of the brain matures during adolescence. "It likely makes it more vulnerable", says Dave Ellemberg, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Montreal who led the study.

The study, which tested the thinking of 96 people about six months on average after they sustained a concussion, found that children had deficits as great as those in adults.

"Often parents and coaches will think that a child's brain is more resilient," Ellemberg told Shots. "That's not the case. Even 6 to 8 months after the injury, we find marked deficits."

What's interesting about this study is that it tested the participants' thinking two different ways. The participants took tests of memory and thinking speed used by the National Hockey League. And they also took tests while their brain activity was measured by an electroencephalogram.

Other recent research has found that the tests used by professional sports teams and, increasingly, by college and high school teams, aren't all that good at detecting the long-term effects of concussion.

Ellemberg says that in earlier tests he did with EEGs, even if people did well on the standard neuropsychological tests after a concussion, their brains were working differently than usual in order to get the job done. This, he says, shows that "that the brain is struggling much more than it normally would to complete the tasks." The findings were published in the journal Brain Injury.

In addition to working memory, the participants' ability to sustain attention and focus was also affected six months to 1 year after the injury.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

O'Keeffe Museum Acquires Rarely-Seen Work By The Famed Artist

An atmospheric image of barns in Lake George, N.Y., is joining the collection at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M. The painting reveals a lesser-known genre of the artist's work.
NPR

We Don't Know How Many Workers Are Injured At Slaughterhouses. Here's Why

Injuries in the meat industry are likely to be under-reported, a new GAO report finds. Workers may be sent back to the line without seeing a doctor, or may not report out of fear of losing their jobs.
WAMU 88.5

Power Plant Fight In Prince George's County

A predominantly African American community in rural Prince George's County recently filed a federal civil rights complaint in response to plans to build a third power plant in one town, and fifth in the region.

NPR

Reports Peg Tech Billionaire As Funder Of Hulk Hogan's Case Against Gawker

The New York Times says entrepreneur Peter Thiel confirms he has been bankrolling the ex-wrestler's lawsuit. Gawker is appealing a jury award to Hogan of $140 million over publication of a sex tape.

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