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Today's Top Medical Stories for Thursday, December 12, 2013

Athletes could face brain damage even without a concussion. And does the sound of music really make your child smarter?
New research suggests that contact sport athletes could damage their brain - even without receiving a concussion.  Researchers  at the Indiana University School of Medicine found that blows to the head during a single season of football or ice hockey may affect the brain's white matter - damaging memory or the ability to think.  The study compared contact and non-contact sports like track and crew and found that contact players performed much worse on memory and learning tests at the end of the season.

About half of all psychiatrists now reject private and federal insurance - requiring payments in cash.  That's according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry. The change means unless the mentally ill have deep pockets they could have a hard time getting help.  The study found that from 2005 to 2010 psychiatrists who accepted private insurance dropped 17-percent and those who took Medicare declined 20-percent.  Experts say with fewer practicing psychiatrists and increasing need for their services - this could lead to a perfect storm of untreated mental health issues.

And the age old belief that music helps make kids smarter - may just be a myth.  Harvard researchers reviewed prior studies and conducted their own tests with students focused on musical training versus the visual arts.  They found there is "no" effect of music training on the cognitive abilities of young children.  But while it may not lead to educational success - music does clearly provide value.  It enhances a child's creativity and helps boost their self-esteem.

(Vinita Nair, CBS News)

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