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Editor's e-Note
It’s been well documented that players in sports with higher rates of head injuries tend to have higher rates of later cognitive impairment, but predicting which athletes will be affected is still more art than science. A new study of professional fighters, however—one of the largest longitudinal studies of brain health in contact sports—offers hope for more empirical methods of identifying at-risk athletes. Find out how researchers are shedding light on this poorly understood phenomenon in this month’s e-News Exclusive.

— Dave Yeager, editor
e-News Exclusive
MRI May Help Predict Cognitive Impairment in Professional Fighters

Images of the brain’s gray and white matter obtained with multiple MRI techniques can help identify and track cognitive impairment in active professional fighters, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

Fighters are exposed to repeated mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, as well as mood and movement dysfunction. A tool that could find signs, or biomarkers, of mTBI-related brain damage would be an invaluable asset in helping fighters and their physicians understand their risk of cognitive impairment, while potentially speeding interventions and contributing to the study and development of drugs designed to slow or reverse cognitive decline.

Much previous research on the subject has focused on either the brain’s neuron-containing gray matter or the fiber tracts in the white matter. For this new study, researchers combined two MRI techniques—T1-weighted MRI and diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI)—to look at both types of brain tissue.

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Other Imaging News
New MRI Contrast Agent Tested on Big Animals
A team formed by the Institute for Basic Science at the Center for Nanoparticle Research, in collaboration with Anhui Provincial Hospital and Seoul National University Hospital, has tested a nontoxic contrast agent for MRI and MR angiography on dogs, rabbits, and monkeys. As published in Nature Biomedical Engineering and reported by, the contrast agent, similar to gadolinium, caused no obvious toxicity.

World’s Brightest Laser Could Pave Way for Lower-Radiation X-rays
A team of researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have conducted an experiment using their Diocles Laser, the world’s brightest laser, finding that it can transform light into X-rays. Though the light emitted had X-ray properties, the electrons behaved differently compared with conventional X-rays. As reported by Fox News, the researchers believe these X-rays could be less harmful and provide higher resolution than current CT machines.

X-ray Finds Unique Fingerprint in Medieval Manuscript Ink
Using X-ray fluorescence and spectral imaging analysis, researchers studied pages from the Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections dating from the 13th and 16th centuries. The researchers discovered traces of the element barium on many of the pages, opening up a method to help track and identify documents.

Lung CT Scans Can Help People Quit Smoking
Researchers in London have found that smokers who get a lung CT scan are more likely to start a smoking cessation program, regardless of the outcome of the scan. The findings, reported by Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, dispute the belief that a screening with clear results encourages a “license to smoke” mentality.
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