Translating Brain Science into Strategies for Living Daily Life
Since the frontal lobes and the front parts of the temporal lobes are the most susceptible to damage from a brain injury, researchers are focusing on what that damage means for a person interviewing for a job, for example, or eating in a restaurant.
When you have a traumatic brain injury-- even the more mild forms--chances are you're going to have an injury to specific parts of the brain. It's not the whole brain that necessarily gets affected, and those areas of the brain that we know are routinely damaged with traumatic brain injury include areas in the frontal lobes of the human brain, as well as the very front part of the temporal lobes. The frontal lobes are right here--right behind your forehead. They rest over your eyes, and the anterior part of the temporal lobes is right here, and 1 of the reasons they get more injured is because of where they lie in the skull. It's just sharper, and if your brain turns in the skull just a little bit, it's going to cut those areas and damage them slightly. So, even a mild brain injury can affect those, and even if you don't see gray matter--the neurons--injured per se, the fibers going to and from those areas in the brain can often be damaged in the case of a mild brain injury. So, we know those areas are susceptible to injury, so it would make sense then we ought to learn a little bit about what those areas do in the brain, and 1 of the goals in my research over my career has been to try to better understand in essence what's represented in that part of the brain. If we can do that--if we can learn more about that-- then we're going to be better able to assess it, and if we can assess it better, we can develop treatments. That's important, and we can as importantly inform the patient and family members about what to expect if there is a problem in real life. We can take what we learn in the laboratory and say, look, you're going to be in a restaurant, or you're going for a job interview. Here's where problems might occur because of the kinds of impairments we've studied in you. This is what we see you might have some problems with. Here are maybe some ways to overcome that.
Posted on BrainLine February 11, 2013.
Jordan Grafman, PhD, is director of Brain Injury Research, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. His investigation of brain function and behavior contributes to advances in medicine, rehabilitation, and psychology, and informs ethics, law, philosophy, and health policy.
Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.