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BOSTON (AP) -- A new study, the results of which were announced at a press conference here this morning, suggests that banging your head against a wall, if done in moderation, can be beneficial to your health.

Researchers at Boston's Center for the Study of Federal Funding, after completing a six-month, federally funded study of three hundred medical students in the Boston area, have concluded that the group of students who banged their heads against a wall for several minutes a day lived better and healthier lives than those who didn't bang their heads against a wall at all; and, considerably better than those who banged their heads against a wall quite frequently.

"This shouldn't come as a surprise," explained Dr. Elijah Fabian, Director of the Center, "given the spate of recent studies revealing the benefits of fat, alcohol, chocolate--even smog--it was inevitable."

According to Dr. Fabian, one hundred young men (women were not included, although a grant financing a follow-up study of women has been applied for) were asked to bang their heads against a wall for three to five minutes each day, while another group of equal number was asked to refrain from banging their heads against a wall altogether. A third group was asked to bang their heads against a wall most of the time.

"Perhaps it's a release of tension," Dr. Fabian speculated, "or maybe some other physiological process is at work, but the test subjects who banged their heads against a wall for a short time each day performed tasks better and just seemed healthier than the ones who didn't bang their heads against a wall at all."

And what about the group that banged their heads against a wall often, day after day, for six months? According to Dr. Fabian, they "didn't do as well."

The results of the study, and its conclusions, were immediately challenged by Prof. Charles Harrigan of the Harvard Medical School, who accused Dr. Fabian of "criminal malpractice."

"He's nothing more than a charlatan who has hoodwinked hundreds of fine, promising young medical students," Harrigan charged. Outraged by what he characterized as a "terrible waste of time, money and--most of all--lives," Harrigan pointed out that "more than a million dollars of taxpayers' money was spent on" Fabian and his small, but devoted staff.

Dr. Fabian responded by reading a clause in the federal grant that absolved him of "all legal responsibility or liability." Besides, he added, Prof. Harrigan was "a cloistered academic with little understanding of the real world."

An aide to Dr. Fabian, identifying herself as "the future Mrs. Fabian," came to his defense, describing the unique head-banging study as "a groundbreaking achievement." Her remark drew some laughter from those assembled, but she was being deadly serious.

Following the abbreviated press conference a scuffle ensued involving Dr. Fabian, an unknown man, Prof. Harrigan, and the future Mrs. Fabian. Police were able to break it up quickly and no one was seriously hurt--although, ironically, Dr. Fabian banged his head on the podium and lost a tooth.

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