Inside the Brain: Changes in Behaviors and Emotions After Brain Injury
by Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Every brain injury is different. When injury occurs to any part of the brain, there is going to be a change. The part of the brain damaged determines the kind of symptoms experienced. Because the brain is a complex organ, some damage may cause unexpected behaviors or emotional changes.
There are several sections of the brain. Each is responsible for various aspects of daily life. This article shares some of the behavioral and emotional changes that can result from damage to the cerebellum and to the cerebrum: temporal lobe, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, and frontal lobe, a major part of which is the prefrontal cortex.
An Overview of the Brain
The cerebellum, which is at the base of the skull, controls coordination, balance, equilibrium, and motor-skill memory. Some of the problems that result from damage to this area are: compromised balance (unable to walk), problems with fine-motor skills, and slurring of speech.
The cerebrum is the uppermost region of the central nervous system and is made up of the temporal, occipital, parietal, and frontal lobes. It is also divided into approximately symmetric left and right cerebral hemispheres. With the assistance of the cerebellum, the cerebrum controls all voluntary actions in the body.
A Closer Look at Brain Injury to the Cerebrum
Damage to the temporal lobe can cause problems with hearing, memory, and motor-skill memory. Injury in the temporal lobe may also result in aggressive behavior.
The occipital lobe has to do with vision and vision-related activities. Reading and writing will be affected by damage to this area of the brain. Vision impairment can occur, which includes blurry, tilted, and double vision.
The parietal lobe is responsible for touch perception and the interpretation of visual information. Problems that may occur with damage to this lobe include difficulty in naming objects, difficulty with reading and/or writing, and spatial perception problems that can affect coordination.
Emotional responses and expressive language are housed in the frontal lobe. Emotions and the skills for problem-solving are dealt with there. The frontal lobe helps folks make sense of the world around them. It’s needed to understand others and be empathetic to them. Essentially, the frontal lobe is the emotional and social control area. It also determines and steers personality.
The prefrontal cortex of the frontal lobe controls analytical thinking, thought analysis, and behavior regulation. Executive functions are controlled here too. The prefrontal cortex is the gateway for making good decisions. When this area is injured, the thinking process is affected in such a way that inappropriate behavior is often the result.
The brain is a complicated organ in the body that determines who one is – how one thinks, how one plans, how one feels, and how one acts. A complete understanding of the workings of this now mysterious organ is happening, but that understanding is still in the future. Several functional parts of the brain have been identified. The symptoms that are experienced usually reflect the specific part of the brain that has been injured. But, scientists still have a long way to go to completely understand the brain. As with any venture on the brink of discovery, we must be patient, while eagerly looking forward to discovering the mysteries of our brains.
Cerebellum — http://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/cerebellum.php
Frontal Lobe — http://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/frontal-lobes.php
Temporal Lobe — http://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/temporal-lobes.php
Parietal Lobe — http://www.neuroskills.com/brain-injury/parietal-lobes.php
Meet Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Donna is a wife, mother, and Granny. She is a teacher, playwright, actor, director, writer, picture-book reviewer, photographer … and, on January 13, 2005, became the caregiver for her husband and best friend, David. Donna had never heard of “TBI” before David’s cerebellar hemorrhage. Now TBI invades her life. Donna spends each day writing a blog, called “Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury,” preparing her radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” on the Brain Injury Radio Network, and searching for a publisher for her completed memoir, “Prisoners Without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale.”
Donna has published four stories with Scholastic, won Essex County’s 2013 Legacies Writing Contest, and was recognized for her children’s book review column, “Teacher’s Pets,” by the National Education Association. Donna published articles about brain injury in several online magazines; she has three biographies and two chapters in press (due out in 2017). But, Donna’s greatest accomplishment is caregiver to her husband, David.