Archive for the ‘Plasticity’ Category

The art inside an injured brain

Posted on: October 10th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

Painters who have injured brains, whether through stroke, car accident, blow to the head or other injury make different art after their brains are damaged.

In one study, neurologists assessed an artist’s entire body of work – painting done both before and after her brain was injured. They reported that the paintings done after the injury showed more artistic skill, but also seemed to have less emotional impact as well as appearing unfinished.

In 2005, Swiss scientists reported on two artists whose post-injury work was decidedly different from the pre-injury art. One artist had damage in the area of the brain that helps form mental images; he began painting more abstractly. The other artist’s brain was damaged in the area that affects creativity. He began to paint more realistically and with brighter colors. While the researchers saw a striking difference in the work, the artists saw no differences. To them, all the art, both before and after their brains were injured, looked the same.

The same changes in art have been seen in people with Pick’s disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease except the dementia affects mainly the frontal and temporal areas of the brain. Some people with Pick’s disease suddenly have amazing music and art talents. Brain scans of these people show damage to the left temporal lobe and reduced blood flow to the area. These scans are similar to the brain scans of autistic savants. (more…)

Wear a helmet!

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

It won’t ruin your hair.

It won’t make you look stupid.

It’s not uncool.

What will ruin your hair, make you look stupid and be totally uncool is injuring your brain while not wearing a helmet when you’re skateboarding, bicycling, inline skating, snowboarding or riding a scooter. Falling from as little as 2 feet can cause a traumatic brain injury.

The statistics from the Think First Foundation, a national group:

  • Helmets can prevent an estimated 75 percent of bicycle fatalities among children – riders without helmets are 14 times more likely to be in a fatal crash than riders wearing helmets.
  • Bicycle helmets can prevent 85 to 88 percent of critical head and brain injuries.
  • If all children aged 4 to 15 wore a bicycle helmet, up to 45,000 head injuries would be prevented each year.
  • Inline skaters sustain 11,000 head and face injuries annually; about 75 percent of skaters don’t wear any safety equipment.
  • About 27 percent of injuries from riding a scooter are head injuries.
  • In 2000, nearly 50,000 children aged 5 to 14 went to a hospital emergency room for skateboard-related injuries.
  • Wearing a helmet could prevent 85 percent of scooter and inline skating injuries.
  • Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury among skiers and snowboarders by 35 percent. (This statistic is from researchers at the University of Calgary based on research published in 2010 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.) (more…)

Do you remember?

Posted on: September 5th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

Try this brief exercise. Get comfortable. Take a deep breath. Now, recall your very first phone number.

(Pause.)

How quickly did the number come back to you? What else came back? In that instant, did you feel as if you were 5 or 6 or 8 years old? Did you see the kitchen with a rotary wall phone and the table where you did your homework? Maybe you saw your house from the street and heard the tch-tch-tch of a sprinkler, or inhaled the aroma of a freshly cut lawn. Chances are the recollection inspired a host of sensory memories which acted as a kind of time machine, ferrying you across a great divide.

One of the reasons your first phone number – like a first love – comes back so readily is because it was an emotional event, a rite of passage. It was given to you only when you were ready for it, and once possessed, it provided a lifeline to a world outside of your family. Your first phone number was novel, it was important, and it became part of your long term memory.

How did it get there, and what does emotion have to do with it?

A memory is not a thing, consigned to one area of the brain. Memories are brain-wide and depend upon a group of communication systems, each playing a unique role. There are three basic stages of memory: encoding, storage, and recall. (more…)

The incredible, adaptable brain

Posted on: July 15th, 2011 by CORE Health Care Admin No Comments

How many of you had a plastic brain as a kid? I did and I loved taking it apart to see the different structures. I’m betting the toymakers didn’t know how prophetic their creations were.

In the 1960s, scientists discovered that the human brain can produce new cells no matter how old it is. This idea is called “neuroplasticity,” meaning the brain is capable of modifying and changing itself by creating new cells and networks.

When first announced, no one really paid much attention because most experts believe that the brain finished developing early in life. In other words, our brains were hardwired and treatments could only compensate for damage to the brain, not repair it. So patients with severe traumatic brain injuries many times were allowed to die because it was assumed that their quality of life would always be horrible.

But once doctors realized the importance of the discovery, it opened doors for new treatments for traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses that affect the brain’s ability to function. Doing rehabilitation exercises to relearn basic skills may allow a traumatically injured brain to form new neural pathways. These new connections may allow the person to walk or talk or think rationally again. (more…)