The study conducted by the University of Stirling detected changes after players were exposed to everyday head impacts, as opposed to clinical brain injuries like concussion.
The research testes a group of 19 footballers, making them head the ball 20 times.
The ball was fired from a machine designed to simulate the pace and power of a corner and scientists tested players’ brain function and memory before and immediately after the heading sessions. They were also tested after 24 hours, 48 hours and two weeks.
Increased inhibition in the brain was detected after just a single session of heading. Memory test performance was also reduced between 41 and 67%, with effects normalising within 24 hours.
Whether the changes to the brain remain temporary after repeated exposure to a football and the long-term consequences of heading on brain health, are yet to be investigated.