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The Vulnerable Lobes

Medical students have always been fascinated by the story of Phineas Gage, a normal, hard working 26-year-old labourer. He became famous in 1848, when an iron rod pierced his skull and brain and exited on the opposite side. He survived this extensive trauma and was physically normal. His life aroused scientific curiosity as physicians suddenly realised that, contrary to popular opinion at that time, all parts of the brain where not essential for life.

The brain controls the physical functions of the body, determines our intelligence, memory, personality and ability to respond to change. It has four paired lobes. Of these, the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes have well elucidated mapped areas for functions like sight, speech, hearing and movement. The frontal lobes (through which the rod pierced Gage), situated just behind the forehead, are responsible for subtle psychological functions like mental maturity, recognition of social norms of behaviour, emotional development and appropriate responses to society.

English: Four brain lobes frontal lobe(red) pa...
English: Four brain lobes frontal lobe(red) parietal lobe(orange) temporal lobe(green) occipital lobe(yellow) and insula(purple) is also shown. others are Brain stem(black) Cerebellum(sky blue). Polygon data are from BodyParts3D maintained by Database Center for Life Science(DBCLS). ???: ????? ???(??) ???(?????) ???(??) ???(??) ??? ?????? ? ??(??) ??(??) ????????Database Center for Life Science(DBCLS)???????BodyParts3D??? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The frontal area of the brain is protected to some extent by the skull bones. However, damage to the frontal lobes can occur as a result of accidents. Surgery may be performed on the frontal lobes to remove cysts or tumours, to treat intractable epilepsy, or very rarely for psychiatric disorders. The effects of injury to the frontal lobes are often subtle and difficult to pinpoint as the IQ (intelligence quotient) may remain normal. There may be weakness without actual paralysis, inability to perform sequential movement (like dressing for work), lack of flexibility and spontaneity, poor attention and difficulty in expressing thoughts lucidly despite increased talking. Sexual habits may change with promiscuity or disinterest or socially inappropriate behaviour. The entire personality of the individual may change, making him or her unpleasant, obnoxious and intolerable.

The brain fibres in the frontal lobes mature as we grow older and develop fully around the age of 25. Genetic defects or injury in the uterus, during birth or within this time frame, can result in faulty connections, inadequate development and poor release of brain chemicals like dopamine. This can cause learning disabilities, antisocial personalities and sometimes even major psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia. Also the size of our brain, particularly of the frontal lobes, shrinks over time. This affects important human abilities such as planning, reasoning and problem solving.

Not all brains age or deteriorate at the same rate. Part of this process is genetic and the degeneration sets in at a certain chronological age triggered by an in-built biological alarm. This apparently inevitable mental decline is further influenced by environmental factors, which can be modified favourably.

The concept of retraining ageing brain circuits has been gaining popularity. There are DVDs and books available on brain exercises. The numbers game Sudoku is in almost every newspaper. Retraining the frontal lobes can also be done quite simply by memorising passages or poetry from books. Repetition of a task makes performance rapid and more efficient with less room for error, as the cascading chemical reactions in the brain then occur on accustomed pathways. Older adults who regularly participate in cognitive activity improve their memory, speed of thought and attention span. This helps them to efficiently manage their day-to-day activities and their finances. The benefits of brain training can be enhanced by regular physical activity.

Look after your brain as it is the only one you have.

* Protect it from injury by wearing seat belts and using helmets.

* Do not hit anyone on the head (this particularly includes corporal punishment).

* If anyone has had an accident or brain surgery, tolerate their idiosyncrasies, changes in personality, unreasonable anger and emotional outbursts.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips

10 Ways to Manage Stress

Stress is a normal part of life and usually comes from everyday occurrences. Here are some ways you can deal with everyday sources of stress:……..click & see

1.Eliminate as many sources of stress as you can. For example, if crowds bother you, go to the supermarket when you know the lines won’t be too long. Try renting videotapes rather than going to crowded movie theaters. Clear up the clutter in your life by giving away or throwing away the things that get in your way. A garage sale is one effective way to do this.

2.If you are always running late, sit down with a pencil and paper and see how you are actually allotting your time. Say it takes you 40 minutes to get to work. Are you leaving your house on time? You may be able to solve your problem (and de-stress your life a bit) just by being realistic. If you can’t find the time for all the activities that are important to you, maybe you are trying to do too much. Again, make a list of what you do during the day and how much each activity takes. Then cut back.

3.Avoid predictably stressful situations. If a certain sport or game makes you tense (whether it’s tennis or bridge), decline the invitation to play. After all, the point of these activities is to have a good time. If you know you won’t, there’s no reason to play.

4.If you can’t remove the stress, remove yourself. Slip away once in a while for some private time. These quiet moments may give you a fresh perspective on your problems. Avoid stressful people. For example, if you don’t get along with your father-in-law but you don’t want to make an issue of it, invite other in-laws at the same time you invite him. Having other people around will absorb some of the pressure you would normally feel.

5. Competing with others, whether in accomplishments, appearance, or possessions, is an avoidable source of stress. You might know people who do all they can to provoke envy in others. While it may seem easy to say you should be satisfied with what you have, it’s the truth. Stress from this kind of jealousy is self-inflicted.

6.Laborsaving devices, such as cellular phones or computer hookups, often encourage us to cram too many activities into each day. Before you buy new equipment, be sure that it will really improve your life. Be aware that taking care of equipment and getting it repaired can be stressful.

7.Try doing only one thing at a time. For example, when you’re riding your exercise bike, you don’t have to listen to the radio or watch television.

8.Remember, sometimes it’s okay to do nothing.

9.If you suffer from insomnia, headaches, recurring colds, or stomach upsets, consider whether stress is part of the problem. Being chronically angry, frustrated, or apprehensive can deplete your physical resources.

10.If you feel stress (or anything else) is getting the better of you, seek professional help — a doctor or therapist. Early signs of excess stress are loss of a sense of well-being and reluctance to get up in the morning to face another day.

Source:Reader’s Digest