Posts Tagged brain function
[Factsheet] Understanding TBI: Part 2 – Brain injury impact on individuals functioning – Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC)
Written by Thomas Novack, PhD and Tamara Bushnik, PhD in collaboration with the MSKTC
A traumatic brain injury interferes with the way the brain normally works. When nerve cells in the brain are damaged, they can no longer send information to each other in the normal way. This causes changes in the person’s behavior and abilities. The injury may cause different problems, depending upon which parts of the brain were damaged most.
There are three general types of problems that can happen after TBI: physical, cognitive and emotional/ behavioral problems. It is impossible to tell early on which specific problems a person will have after a TBI. Problems typically improve as the person recovers, but this may take weeks or months. With some severe injuries changes can take many years.
The brain is the control center for all human activity, including vital processes (breathing and moving) as well as thinking, judgment, and emotional reactions. Understanding how different parts of the brain work helps us understand how injury affects a person’s abilities and behaviors.
Left vs. Right Brain
- The brain is divided into two halves (hemispheres). The left half controls movement and sensation in the right side of the body, and the right half controls movement and sensation in the left side. Thus, damage to the right side of the brain may cause movement problems or weakness on the body’s left side.
- For most people, the left half of the brain is responsible for verbal and logical functions including language (listening, reading, speaking, and writing), thought and memory involving words.
- The right half is responsible for nonverbal and intuitive functions such as putting bits of information together to make up an entire picture, recognizing oral and visual patterns and designs (music and art), and expressing and understanding emotions.
Brain Areas & Associated Functions
The brain is made up of six parts that can be injured in a head injury. The effect of a brain injury is partially determined by the location of the injury. Sometimes only a single area is affected, but in most cases of TBI multiple areas have been injured. When all areas of the brain are affected, the injury can be very severe.
Most people with TBI are able to walk and use their hands within 6-12 months after injury. In most cases, the physical difficulties do not prevent a return to independent living, including work and driving.
In the long term the TBI may reduce coordination or produce weakness and problems with balance. For example, a person with TBI may have difficulty playing sports as well as they did before the injury. They also may not be able to maintain activity for very long due to fatigue.
- Individuals with a moderate-to-severe brain injury often have problems in basic cognitive (thinking) skills such as paying attention, concentrating, and remembering new information and events.
- They may think slowly, speak slowly and solve problems slowly.
- They may become confused easily when normal routines are changed or when things become too noisy or hectic around them.
- They may stick to a task too long, being unable to switch to different task when having difficulties.
- On the other hand, they may jump at the first solution they see without thinking it through.
- They may have speech and language problems, such as trouble finding the right word or understanding others.
- After brain injury, a person may have trouble with all the complex cognitive activities necessary to be independent and competent in our complex world. The brain processes large amounts of complex information all the time that allows us to function independently in our daily lives. This activity is called executive function because it means being the executive or being in charge of one’s own life.
Behavioral and emotional difficulties are common and can be the result of several causes:
- First, the changes can come directly from damage to brain tissue. This is especially true for injuries to the frontal lobe, which controls emotion and behavior.
- Second, cognitive problems may lead to emotional changes or make them worse. For example, a person who cannot pay attention well enough to follow a conversation may become very frustrated and upset in those situations.
- Third, it is understandable for people with TBI to have strong emotional reactions to the major life changes that are caused by the injury. For example, loss of job and income, changes in family roles, and needing supervision for the first time in one’s adult life can cause frustration and depression.
Brain injury can bring on disturbing new behaviors or change a person’s personality. This is very distressing to both the person with the TBI and the family. These behaviors may include:
- Acting more dependent on others
- Emotional or mood swings
- Lack of motivation
- Acting inappropriately in different situations
- Lack of self-awareness. Injured individuals may be unaware that they have changed or have problems. This can be due to the brain damage itself or to a denial of what’s really going on in order to avoid fully facing the seriousness of their condition.
Fortunately, with rehabilitation training, therapy and other supports, the person can learn to manage these emotional and behavioral problems.
This information is not meant to replace the advice from a medical professional. You should consult your health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.
Our health information content is based on research evidence whenever available and represents the consensus of expert opinion of the TBI Model Systems directors.
Our health information content is based on research evidence and/or professional consensus and has been reviewed and approved by an editorial team of experts from the TBI Model Systems.
Understanding TBI was developed by Thomas Novack, PhD and Tamara Bushnik, PhD in collaboration with the Model System Knowledge Translation Center. Portions of this document were adapted from materials developed by the University of Alabama TBIMS, Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, New York TBIMS, Mayo Clinic TBIMS, Moss TBIMS, and from Picking up the pieces after TBI: A guide for Family Members, by Angelle M. Sander, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine (2002).
Happily in improving your brain’s ability to function, it is not necessary to pay for expensive online games, that ultimately add nothing to the quality of your life. These nine training tips are free to engage in, will improve your brain’s function, and entice you to live life to its fullest!
How We Can Increase Brain Function As We Age
A study of randomly chosen individuals age 57-71 showed improved brain function after just 12 hours of strategic brain training exercises. Using MRIs of the participants brains both before and after, researchers saw upwards of an 8% improvement in blood flow and other indices that indicate improved brain function.
Improved brain function included improved ability to strategize, remember and draw big-picture conclusions from lengthy texts of information.
Remarkably, in a follow up study using MRIs again on the participants, researchers found that the benefits derived from the single training session were still in place one year later. Enhanced synaptic plasticity means that we can think faster, listen better, respond to situations faster and concentrate with greater focus. Creativity is enhanced as well.
MRI of the Brain
The Neurorehabilitation and Brain Research Group is a multidisciplinary team focused on assessing and promoting the recovery of brain function after an injury and on examining the underlying mechanisms of different brain processes. The group involves researchers from i3B Institute and Labpsitec, and maintains close collaborations with other national and international entities
- Upper Limb
- Unilateral spatial neglect
- Disorders of consiousness
- Technological research
[WEB SITE] Center for BrainHealth Tool Provides Unique Insight for Those with Traumatic Brain Injury.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
A new study reveals that individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) have significantly more difficulty with gist reasoning than traditional cognitive tests. Using a unique cognitive assessment developed by researchers at theCenter for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, findings published Friday in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology indicate that an individual’s ability to “get the gist or extract the essence of a message” after a TBI more strongly predicts his or her ability to effectively hold a job or maintain a household than previously revealed by traditional cognitive tests alone. The study also further validates the Center for BrainHealth’s gist reasoning assessment as an informative tool capable of estimating a broad range of daily life skills.
“Gist reasoning characterizes a meaningful complex cognitive capacity. Assessing how well one understands and expresses big ideas from information they are exposed, commonly known as an ability to “get the gist”, is window into real life functionality. I do not know of any other paper and pencil test that can tell us both,” explained Asha Vas, Ph.D., research scientist at the Center for BrainHealth and lead study author. “Although performance on traditional cognitive tests is informative, widely-used measures do not paint the full picture. Adults with TBI often fare average or above on these structured measures. All too often, adults with brain injury have been told that they ought to be fine; in reality, they are not doing and thinking like they used to prior to the injury and struggle managing everyday life responsibilities years after the injury. Gist reasoning could be a sensitive tool to connect some of those dots as to why they are having trouble with real-life functionality despite falling into the range of “normal” on other cognitive tests.”
Study participants included 70 adults ages 25-55: 30 suffered a TBI one year or longer prior to the study and 40 were healthy controls. The TBI group and matched controls were of similar socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds, and IQ. Researchers administered a series of standard cognitive assessments, including working memory, inhibition, and switching. Researchers also gave the gist reasoning assessment, which studies the number of gist-based ideas (not explicitly stated facts) participants are able to abstract from multiple complex texts. Daily life functionality in TBI participants was evaluated using a self-rated questionnaire that included topics such as problem solving at work, managing finances, organizing grocery lists at home, and social interactions.
Although the two groups had similar IQ, reading comprehension and speed of processing scores, nearly 70% of the TBI group scored lower on gist reasoning compared to controls. The TBI survivors’ decreased gist-reasoning performance showed a direct correlation with difficulties at work and at home. Interestingly the cumulative score of all standard cognitive tests only predicted daily function with 45% accuracy in individuals with TBI. Adding the gist reasoning measure boosted accuracy to 58%.
“TBI needs to be treated as a chronic condition. While acute recovery care is essential, long-term monitoring and effective interventions are necessary to mitigate persistent or later-emerging deficits and ensure maximum brain regeneration and cognitive performance,” said Sandra Chapman,Ph.D., founder and chief director at the Center for BrainHealth and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas. “We don’t want anyone who has survived a TBI to think that if gist reasoning and day-to-day life is challenging today that it will always be that way, because gist reasoning can be improved. In an earlier study conducted at the Center for BrainHealth, we found that individuals with TBI can improve gist reasoning. This is very promising outcome, because increased gist reasoning is associated with improved functionality and greater brain blood flow, a sign of increased brain health.”
The researchers theorize that gist reasoning impairments could reflect losses in flexible and innovative thinking and that losses in these areas hinder optimal daily life functioning, including job performance and social relationships. “Deficits of this nature may manifest in a lessened ability to problem solve in unexpected situations and understand others’ point of view,” Vas said.The Center is currently conducting multiple projects to study the effectiveness of high performance brain training strategies in individuals with TBI and other populations, to help improve brain function across the lifespan and enrich daily life.
This research was made possible by a Friends of BrainHealth Distinguished New Scientist Award.
Source: Center for BrainHealth
Published on Dec 4, 2014
An evidenced based multimedia approach to teaching neuroplasticity.
While many people have something of a mental picture of the external view of a brain, the internal workings are hard to imagine. Patients and other learners need something solid to grasp onto when trying to make sense of the very abstract idea of brain function.
A nail box (also called a pin-box) can be used to explain aspects of the brain and the therapeutic potential of interventions that target it. In terms of evidence based multimedia, the box is an external, animated model which allows a reasonably accurate, metaphorical, three dimensional model of neuroplasticity. It is particularly powerful because it can demonstrate the ‘elasticity’ of the brain – it’s ability to change, and also change back.
The nailbox is something you can touch, experience and “see” changes in. Demonstration of the brain’s working with a nailbox requires minimal scientific language and, via this simple mechanism, it’s possible to show complex aspects of neuroplasticity. This is my version of telling a person about smudging and changeability of the brain with a nailbox.
To find out more about the brain and pain visit http://www.noigroup.com