The next time one of your friends or acquaintances pulls a Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother and tells you to “suit up,” you might want to forgo the necktie, as a new study suggests that wearing a tie reduces blood circulation to the brain, potentially preventing the brain from processing information as smoothly as it should.
According to a paper published last week in the journal Neuroradiology and cited by medical website Aunt Minnie, the impact of wearing neckties on people’s health had largely been unknown prior to the 21st century. In the early 2000s, researchers began to study whether ties posed a health risk to their wearers, with some suggesting that the neckwear could serve as a vessel for hospital-acquired infections, and others hinting that ties could affect intraocular pressure or fluid pressure inside the eye. The new study, however, focused on the possible effect of ties on cerebral blood flow, specifically how the neckwear could compress blood flow in the jugular vein if a necktie is tightened.
For the purposes of their study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Robin Luddecke of the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany recruited 30 healthy young men and divided them into two groups, one group of 15 that was asked to wear open-collared shirts, and another group of 15 that was asked to wear ties. A report from the New York Post, which cited a member’s only article from New Scientist, noted that the men in the tie-wearing group had to wear Windsor-knotted ties that were “tightened to the point of slight discomfort.”
The two groups were given a set of three MRI scans, with the men in the open-collared shirt group going through the last two MRI scans without a tie. As Aunt Minnie further noted, the researchers’ methodologies required that the tie-wearing group undergo the baseline scan with a loosened necktie and open collar, the second with the shirt collar closed and the tie tightened, and the third and last one with the necktie loosened and collar button opened.
Based on the researchers’ findings, those who wore ties saw their blood circulation to the brain drop by about 4.33 mL/min/100 g, or about 7.5 percent, between the baseline scan and the second MRI, where the tie was tightened. The difference jumped to 12.8 percent from baseline during the final scan, right after the test subjects loosened their ties. Cerebral blood flow figures were similar across all three scans for those in the control group.
Interestingly, the researchers did not notice any statistically significant changes when it came to blood flow in the jugular vein.
While the study might sound like an excuse for people to stop wearing ties to ensure normal blood circulation to the brain, Metro opined that the research is not without limitations. For example, only 30 men took part in the study, which is far too few subjects for anyone to make any generalization. The publication added that the participants had to wear their ties in an extremely uncomfortable fashion and that their reaction times, decision-making abilities, and other metrics relevant to the impact of reduced cerebral blood flow, were not taken into account by the researchers.
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