CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Brain imaging exams performed on high school football players after just one season revealed changes in both the gray and white matter that correlated with exposure to head impacts, according to a new study that will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). "It's important to understand the potential changes occurring in the brain related to youth contact sports," said Elizabeth Moody Davenport, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, who led this analysis. "We know that some professional football players suffer from a serious condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. We are attempting to find out when and how that process starts, so that we can keep sports a healthy activity for millions of children and adolescents." The study included 24 players from a high school football team in North Carolina, each of whom wore a helmet outfitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) during all practices and games. The helmets are lined with six accelerometers, or sensors, that measure the magnitude, location and direction of a hit. Data from the helmets can be uploaded to a computer for analysis. "We saw changes in these young players' brains on both structural and functional imaging after a single season of football," Dr. Davenport said. In the study, each player underwent pre- and post-season imaging: a specialized MRI scan, from which diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) data were extracted to measure the brain's white matter integrity, and a magnetoencephalography (MEG) scan, which records and analyzes the magnetic fields produced by brain waves. Diffusion imaging can measure the structural white matter changes in the brain, and MEG assesses changes in function.