What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Football's Concussion Crisis

February 6, 2011, 12:00 AM
Training_for_football_at_princeton

Evidence is mounting that football is potentially even more damaging to the brain than it is to the body. According to an NFL-commissioned study, retired football players aged 50 and above are 5 times more likely to suffer from Alzheimer's or other dementia-related disorders. For players aged 30-49, the rate is 19 times higher than the national average.

While the mechanisms behind these statistics are not precisely known, leading neuroscientists and neurologists discussed this apparent link between head trauma and brain disorders during a Big Think panel on Alzheimer's disease last December.

Head trauma appears to create havoc in the brain that tears synapses, says Dr. Ottavio Arancio of the Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer's disease at Columbia University. Within hours of a head trauma, a brain plaque called beta amyloid—one of the well-studied hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease—is seen to build up in patients. This material, the beta amyloid, exists in small amounts in the brain since birth, and largely without effect. "However," says Dr. Arancio, "something happens in the disease and this balance, the communication within cells, is broken and there is an accumulation of this material.” 

A single severe incident of head trauma—as could result from a concussive explosion, during war for instance—can increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Samuel Gandy, Associate Director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. But repeated blows to the head, as experienced by football players and boxers, can also lead to a similar disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which Dr. Gandy explains in the clip below:

 

Knowing this, it's hard to watch the game in quite the same way.

More Resources:

—Recent New Yorker feature article about "the concussion crisis" in the NFL.

—New York Times topic page on head injury in sports.

—More information about the brain disorder from Big Think's Breakthroughs: Alzheimer's Disease series. 

More from the Big Idea for Sunday, February 03 2013

Mental Health

The game of modern American football came about through rules changes in response to a string of deaths in the early 20th century. To make the game less brutal, for instance, the forward pass -- a... Read More…

 

Football's Concussion Crisis

Newsletter: Share: