Did you know your brain has the ability to repair itself?
PLASTICITY! That’s what it’s called!
It means your brain reroutes its network to compensate for the loss of abilities!
Do you remember that classmate in school that wore a patch for their lazy-eye condition? Well, forcing their lazy eye to be the only source of visual information did not change anything about the eye, but, it did cause their visual pathways in the brain to develop further (Marquez, 2019)! HOW?! Because of rewiring!
People who have stroke have difficulties controlling their body movement due to paralysis. This is because the brain cells responsible for the movement for that particular part of the body is “dead”. But, a neuroscientist found a way to get that paralysed arm to work! He adopted a constraint-induced therapy where patients avoided using their working arm and could only use the arm that’s affected by stroke. After 2 weeks, they discovered that the arm became stronger! This happened because the area of the brain next to the damaged neurones started to rewire to enable the patient to use that arm (Marquez, 2019)!
Many of us would have heard about the amazing sense of hearing that blind people have (Sandoiu, 2018)! Blind people gain information about their surroundings from sound. Hence, the area responsible for sound in the brain, the auditory cortex, has intensified capacities (Times, 2019) while the area responsible for vision in the brain become smaller (Newman, 2017).
Research has found that as people age, the risk of getting dementia increases. But, there is a way to minimise that risk and it starts from young! People who take part in aerobic exercises have increased cortical thickness of their brains. This development of thickness is associated with lower risk of dementia in old age. Aerobic exercise benefits people in their twenties. Even though people in their twenties do not face the threat of cognitive decline, exercising early helps to build up these defences (Betuel, 2019)!
Our brain is more powerful than we think it is! And it is within us to develop it and harness its strengths! Start living right by exercising, learning new things and sleeping well! The brain you look after now, will look after you later on!
Marquez, J. (2019). Rewiring the brains of stroke patients. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-rewiring-brains-patients.html
Sandoiu, A. (2018). The curious case of a blind woman who sees motion. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322136.php
Times, A. (2019). Studies Prove Blind People Really Have Better Hearing. Retrieved from https://www.techtimes.com/articles/242061/20190423/studies-prove-blind-people-really-have-better-hearing.htm
Newman, T. (2017). How blind people’s brains rewire to improve other senses. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316493.php
Betuel, E. (2019). The Effect of Exercise on Aging Brains Begins Even Earlier Than We Thought. Retrieved from https://www.inverse.com/article/52914-exercise-effects-on-brain-health-and-aging-start-young
In the first edition of The Psychotherapist’s Corner, we spoke about traumatic brain injuries and read some case studies. For this edition, we will go a little deeper, so you get a better understanding of how your brain functions!
The different lobes
“Use your brain lah!” – A common phrase uttered by most of us to our friends! But do you know why there’s so much of emphasis on the brain? It’s because your brain decides every action you take!
The AMAZING human brain is divided into four lobes – occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal. Damages to any part of the lobe will result in an inability to solve problems and understand information (Kalat, 2014).
In 1999, an Obstetrician Dr Allan Zarkin carved his initials “AZ” on Liana Gedz’s, abdomen after she delivered her child. When interrogation began, he told officials that it felt like he did a good job so he signed it. There were also observations about his unusual anger at work. They later learnt about his dementia in the frontal lobe, also known as Pick’s disease. The disease disrupts a person’s ability to exhibit socially appropriate behaviours. His medical license was, then, revoked (Dodgson, 2018).
OMG! I didn’t know!
Many people I spoke to had no idea how important their brain was! Think of your brain as the motherboard for your body. It is responsible for your memory, movements and even recognizing people. And all of these is possible only when you look after your brain. Looking after does not only mean protecting it from injuries, it also means you need to have adequate sleep and feed your brain positivity! What you surround your mind with, will impact the choices you make!
Welcome to the first edition of “The Psychotherapist Corner”. In this edition, we will be sharing information about your brain with you! If you have friends who play soccer, then there is a high chance you would have heard the word “concussion” before! But what exactly is concussion?
Your brain is inside the skull; however, it is not attached to the skull – your brain “floats”! It is protected by membranes, known as meninges. When something hits your head with great force, the impact causes the brain to shake. This may result in cell damage. Concussion, a type of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), occurs when the damaged cells are neurons. Symptoms of concussion include memory loss and headache. However, these signs may not appear immediately.
So, friends! If you ever hit your head anywhere and even though you think you’re fine, always get a scan done to be 100% sure! Better safe than sorry!
Four years ago, Chelsea had a seizure and fell on the ground at college. Her brain was damaged when she stopped breathing. Post-recovery, she has mood swings and is not able to control her rage. Minor disruptions such as not being able to go back to school resulted in her getting physical with her mother and punching her father (Dodgson, 2018).
In 2014, Adam was in a major car accident that resulted in a serious TBI. After being discharged, his family said he was not the same person anymore. He displayed argumentative behaviours, was childish and vulgar (Wearne & Trimmer, 2017)
How It Affects People?
TBI may result in people having difficulties in communicating, planning daily activities and problem solving. There may even be changes in behaviour where the person becomes more aggressive and either have an excessive of emotions or a totally flattened mood. (Wearne & Trimmer, 2017).
How Can We Support Them?
Recovery varies for everyone. Many have difficulties adjusting to their new lifestyle. They may not be able to live independently or achieve certain types of goals. This may add on to their frustration. Their behavioural changes may place a strain on families and friends. It is important for us to understand why there’s a change in their behaviour and to continue to provide support. With understanding, we can foster a supportive and encouraging society! (Wearne & Trimmer, 2017).
1. Dodgson, L. (2018). Brain injuries can cause some people to become violent criminals and pedophiles — here’s what scientists know so far about why that is. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.sg/brain-damage-can-turn-people-into-criminals-2018-2/?r=US&IR=T
2. Wearne, T., & Trimmer, E. (2017). Explainer: What is traumatic brain injury? Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-traumatic-brain-injury-75546