What is happening inside the brains of our top contact sport athletes? Many are experiencing symptoms of a degenerative condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) –⁠ a progressive brain disease that causes dementia and is associated with repetitive head injuries. 

By examining the brains of former athletes after death, we are learning about the long-term consequences of concussions. It is also helping us to better understand other neurodegenerative diseases, as repetitive head injury is also a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Many of the brain changes we see in these diseases also occur in CTE.

This talk will explore what we know about the brains of contact sport athletes and how this knowledge will help us unravel the mysteries of progressive brain disease.


Dr Helen Murray is a research fellow at the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland and captain of the New Zealand women’s ice hockey team. Her research examines the cellular anatomy of the human brain and how it changes in neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular focus on dementia in contact sport athletes.

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Last updated: 13 July 2022