BRAIN FUNCTIONING HTTP://WWW.NEUROSKILLS.COM/BRAIN.SHTML#MAP CEREBRAL CORTEX CEREBRAL CORTEX Frontal Lobe: Most anterior, right under the forehead. Consciousness, emotions, judgments, assigns meaning to words, symbols, etc. Problems: Loss of simple movement of various body parts (Paralysis). Inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-stepped tasks, such as making coffee (Sequencing). Loss of spontaneity in interacting with others. Loss of flexibility in thinking. Persistence of a single thought (Perseverance). Inability to focus on task (Attending). Mood changes. Changes in social behavior. Changes in personality. Difficulty with problem solving. Inability to express language (Broca's Aphasia). PARIETAL LOBE Parietal Lobe: near the back and top of the head. Touch perception, voluntary movement, integration of senses. Problems Inability to attend to more than one object at a time. Inability to name an object (Anomia). Inability to locate the words for writing (Agraphia). Problems with reading (Alexia). Difficulty with drawing objects. Difficulty in distinguishing left from right. Difficulty with doing mathematics (Dyscalculia). Lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space (Apraxia) that leads to difficulties in self-care. Inability to focus visual attention. Difficulties with eye and hand coordination. OCCIPITAL LOBES Occipital Lobes: Most posterior, at the back of the head. Vision, Problems Defects in vision (Visual Field Cuts). Difficulty with locating objects in environment. Difficulty with identifying colors (Color Agnosia). Production of hallucinations. Visual illusions - inaccurately seeing objects. Word blindness - inability to recognize words. Difficulty in recognizing drawn objects. Inability to recognize the movement of an object (Movement Agnosia). Difficulties with reading and writing. TEMPORAL LOBES Temporal Lobes: Side of head above ears. Hearing, some memory, visual perception, difficulty recognising faces, Difficulty in recognizing faces (Prosopagnosia). Difficulty in understanding spoken words (Wernicke's Aphasia). Disturbance with selective attention to what we see and hear. Difficulty with identification of, and verbalization about objects. Short-term memory loss. Interference with long-term memory. Increased or decreased interest in sexual behavior. Inability to catagorize objects (Catagorization). Right lobe damage can cause persistent talking. Increased aggressive behavior. BRAIN STEM BRAIN STEM Deep in Brain, leads to spinal cord. Breathing Heart Rate Swallowing Reflexes to seeing and hearing (Startle Response). Controls sweating, blood pressure, digestion, temperature (Autonomic Nervous System). Affects level of alertness. Ability to sleep. Sense of balance (Vestibular Function). CEREBELLUM CEREBELLUM Located at the base of the skull. Problems Loss of ability to coordinate fine movements. Loss of ability to walk. Inability to reach out and grab objects. Tremors. Dizziness (Vertigo). Slurred Speech (Scanning Speech). Inability to make rapid movements. ADOLESCENCE Profound changes Three of the most significant changes of the life cycle take place during adolescence THE CHANGES ARE: the ability to produce the establishment of an identity development of logical and rational thought processes. PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) confirms what was long believed by Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori – a child’s mind develops in ‘fits and starts’ followed by periods of consolidation. There appear to be times during early childhood through to adolescence when children are highly receptive to new information and able to gain specific skills more easily. Children’s brains are much busier than an adult’s brains. From birth, the brain is busy setting up connections. At birth each neuron has 2,500 synapses. By the age of 2 years, there are 15,000 synapses per neuron. During this time children absorb their surroundings and are especially interested in differences. At the age of three years the first period of consolidation begins. Children ask the question “why?” A four year old asks a “why” question every two and a half minutes! Around the age of six, there is a second surge as the brain starts to use language in increasingly complex ways. Up to the age of nine a child’s brain continues to be twice as active as an adult’s brain. At around the age of nine peer relationships seem to predominate. (bullying increases around this age). It’s at this point that we start to see the brain gearing up for adolescence. During the teenage years, the brain starts to slow down to its adult running rate. Synaptic pruning begins during the preadolescent years. During adolescence, brain connections and signaling mechanisms selectively change over time to meet the needs of the environment. Overall, gray matter volume increases at earlier ages, followed by sustained loss and thinning starting around puberty, which correlates with advancing cognitive abilities. MRI brain images show top views of the sequence of gray matter maturation over the surface of the brain. Researchers found that, overall, gray matter volume increased at earlier ages, followed by sustained loss and thinning starting around puberty, which correlates with advancing cognitive abilities. ‘PRUNING’ Synaptic pruning begins during the preadolescent years. Scientists think this process reflects greater organization of the brain as it prunes redundant connections, and increases in myelin, which enhance transmission of brain messages. ‘PRUNING’ This is where the brain breaks down its weakest connections preserving only those that experience has shown to be useful. The synapses that carry the most messages get stronger and the weaker, less used ones get cut out. The process is much like the pruning of a tree. By cutting back weak branches, others flourish. As many as 30,000 synapses may be lost per second in the early adolescent brain leading to an ultimate loss of almost one half of the synapses that were present in the pre-adolescent period. The brain consolidates learning by pruning away synapses and wrapping white matter (myelin) around other connections to stabilize and strengthen them. The period of pruning is as important for brain development as the period of growth. The second thing that happens in adolescent’s brains is that the frontal lobes - the part of the brain that enables us to plan, consider, control impulses and make wise judgments - is the last part to develop. Behaviour and emotion are less adequately controlled due to a lack of synchrony between a mature body and an immature nervous system. As a result, young people are more likely to engage in risky behaviours during this time. Ronald E Dahl, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre describes it as being "… like turbocharging an engine without a skilled driver". Although clinical studies show that adolescents reach adult levels of decision-making by age 15, they make poor decisions in real life, often with input from peers in an emotionally charged situation. Dahl states that "adolescents make a lot of decisions that the average 9 year old would say was a dumb thing to do". FEMALE BRAIN MALE BRAIN DIFFERENCES Michael Gurian, psychologist and author of "What Could He Be Thinking?" has claimed to identify approximately one hundred structural differences between male and female brains in a recent study. "Men, because we tend to compartmentalize our communication into a smaller part of the brain, we tend to be better at getting right to the issue, the more female brain (will) gather a lot of material, gather a lot of information, feel a lot, hear a lot, sense a lot." MEN HAVE LARGER AND HEAVIER BRAINS THAN WOMEN. Cell numbers: men have 4% more brain cells than women, and about 100 grams more of brain tissue. “Many women have asked me why men need more brain tissue in order to get the same things done”. MALES Men have more activity in the mechanical centres of the brain (cerebellum and parietal lobes) Men have better spacial skills than women (better hand eye coordination) FEMALES Women have more activity in the language (and emotion and relationships) centres of the brain (temporal lobe and cerebral cortex) Women have better ‘sensing’ abilities (vision, hearing, touch) and are able to merge this data. CORPUS CALLOSUM It is reported that a woman's brain has a larger corpus callusum, which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemisphere faster than men. Men tend to be more left brained, while women have greater access to both sides. CELLULAR CONNECTIONS Even though a man seems to have more brain cells, it is reported that women have more dendritic connections between brain cells. Language: for men, language is most often just in the dominant hemisphere (usually the left side), but a larger number of women seem to be able to use both sides for language. This gives them a distinct advantage. LIMBIC BRAIN Limbic size: bonding/nesting instincts - current research has demonstrated that females, on average, have a larger deep limbic system than males. Due to the larger deep limbic brain women are more in touch with their feelings, they are generally better able to express their feelings than men. LIMBIC BRAIN Women have an increased ability to bond and be connected to others (which is why women are the primary caretakers for children - there is no society on earth where men are primary caretakers for children). Females have a more acute sense of smell, which is likely to have developed from an evolutionary need for the mother to recognize her young. Having a larger deep limbic system leaves a female somewhat more susceptible to depression, especially at times of significant hormonal changes such as the onset of puberty, before menses, after the birth of a child and at menopause. Women attempt suicide three times more than men. Yet, men kill themselves three times more than women, in part, because they use more violent means of killing themselves and men are generally less connected to others than are women. Disconnection from others increases the risk of completed suicides.