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A Mother's Voice Can Illuminate The Brain

Posted by on in TBI
b2ap3_thumbnail_motheranddaughter.png * Less than one second. That's how long it takes children to recognize their mother's voice. And that voice lights a child's brain up like a Christmas tree. * A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine studied how children reacted to mom's voice compared to a woman they didn't know. Kids were not only more engaged by mom's voice than a stranger's, scientists found, but this response was noted beyond just auditory areas of the brain. * Parts of the brain related to emotion, reward processing, facial recognition and social functioning are also amped by hearing from mom. In short, a child's ability to communicate socially is in a large way affected by how he or she reacts to mom's voice. * The fact that so many parts of the brain lit up after hearing from mom was the real surprise for scientists, said Vinod Menon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the study's senior author. * This reaction to dear old mom's voice may stretch beyond childhood. A study back in 2010 suggested that teenagers going through a stressful time were almost instantly soothed by hearing mom's voice on the phone, because the conversation helped reduce a key stress hormone and released oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical believed to play a role in forming bonds. ( Continue reading
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Bad Dancer? Yikes! Could Be Your Brain's Fault.

Posted by on in TBI
b2ap3_thumbnail_Dancers-Cartoon.jpg - A study, released today by researchers at the University of Oxford in England, claims a tiny messenger in the brain is partly to blame for those among us who struggle to grasp the latest dance moves. - This is all about GABA (short for gamma-aminobutyric acid). Again: not Gaga, GABA. A naturally occurring chemical, GABA is a bit like the brain’s traffic cop. Nerve cells in the brain are constantly firing and “talking” to each other. GABA helps keep all that chatter from getting out of control. - “Our research suggests that an important first step in learning that new skill is a decrease in GABA levels in the motor cortex,” explained Dr. Charlotte Stagg, a junior research fellow at Oxford and at John Radcliffe Hospital. Her study was published online in the journal Current Biology. - “It appears that GABA levels in some people are more easily modulated than in others, and that the differences between people (are) related to their ability to learn” new movements, Stagg said. ( as of 2011) Continue reading
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How Workouts Give Your Brain A Boost And Help TBI Recovery

Posted by on in TBI
b2ap3_thumbnail_brain-health.jpg - "What benefits the body benefits the brain," says Dianna Purvis Jaffin, PhD, director of strategy and program at the Center for Brain Health's Brain Performance Institute. "You are not a separate brain walking around on top of a body." - Exercise revs up complex processes inside your mind that can curb depression, help you keep your cool at work, and even one day give Betty White a run for her money. Here are three brain benefits of exercise, plus a look at the science behind them from the inside out. - Inside your head, there are about 86 billion neurons designed to bark orders to the rest of your body — all with the help of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters regulate everything from your mood and sleep cycle, to memory and appetite. - What's it to you? Studies show that low levels of two of these neurotransmitters in particular, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), can lead to mood disorders such as depression. The good news: moderate exercise can increase these levels, according to a recent study in The Journal of Neuroscience. The result, whether you suffer from depression or not, is an increased resilience and capacity to respond to mental challenges, a concept known as "mental fitness," explains study author Richard Maddock, MD, a research professor at UC Davis Medical Center. - If you're constantly feeling overwhelmed by the stressors in your life, you might want to step up your fitness routine. Why? When you're stressed out your brain secretes the "fight or flight" stress hormone cortisol. This is good if you're about to get mugged on the street, but if your cortisol levels are chronically elevated, it can cause problems, says Jaffin. (Studies have linked high cortisol levels to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and more.) - It's never too early to think about having a healthy brain as you age, and exercise can help by increasing your cognitive reserve. Translation: Your brain will be able to handle the deterioration that comes with age without taking its toll on your memory, says Jaffin. ( Continue reading
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Did TBI Lead To Murder? Could TBI Recovery Have Helped Prevent It?

Posted by on in TBI
(Dear Friends, if a loved one exhibits any violent nature towards you, contact professionals/authorities immediately. In cases such as this, perhaps nuero-counseling or a change in medications may help. Alex.) --- b2ap3_thumbnail_stacy-fawcett.jpg * Investigators are trying to determine what led a Texas teenager to fatally stab his brother and his television-personality mother before mortally wounding himself, police said Monday. * Police in the Dallas suburb of Plano said 19-year old McCann Utu Jr. attacked his 45-year-old mother, Stacy Fawcett, and his 17-year-old brother early Friday before stabbing himself multiple times at the family's home. Authorities said he called 911 at some point and admitted to the killings. * Tilley said investigators are conducting interviews with family and friends who say Utu's disposition dramatically changed after he suffered a concussion during a high school basketball game in the fall of 2013, and then another concussion a few months later during an altercation with another student. * Utu's uncle, Scott Fawcett, said his nephew's mood took a dramatic turn about a year ago, and that he was receiving psychiatric care and concussion therapy. * "He had just completely mentally dwindled away," Fawcett told Dallas TV station WFAA, where Stacy Fawcett provided weekly segments on her favorite dishes and other food-related coverage. * Sarah Stoddard, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, said an eight-year study she was involved in indicated that young people who suffered a brain injury were more likely to engage in violent behavior. Stoddard, who isn't involved in the Utu investigation, said personality changes can result from damage to the brain's frontal lobe. * Fawcett’s brother Justin Fawcett told WFAA that McCann Utu went on a rampage — taking knives from the kitchen and stabbing his mom and brother, a senior at Plano West High School. * Waseem Limbada, a friend of McCann Utu, told WFAA on Friday that his friend changed after suffering a concussion in the fall of 2013 while playing for the Plano West basketball team. He said Utu never played again because he couldn’t pass the concussion protocol test. * “When he kept failing it, he had a lot of free time on his hands, he wasn’t showing up to practice,” Limbada said. “It just put him with the wrong crowd, started doing drugs, started being with the wrong people.” (UK & Continue reading
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The Human Brain Versus A Computer (Who Wins?)

Posted by on in TBI
b2ap3_thumbnail_brain-versus-computer.jpg * For as fast and powerful as computers have become, they still pose no match for the human brain. Sure, a computer specifically programmed to perform singular task such as, say, playing chess can give a human a run for his or her money, but when we measure a computer against the entirety of what a human mind is capable of, it’s not really all that close. * Over the past few years, scientists, in a variety of ways, have tried to get a super computer to mimic the complexity and raw processing power of the human brain. According to biologists, the human brain has approximately 90 billion nerve cells which are linked together by, quite literally, trillions of connections called synapses. Taken together, this system of elaborate connections within the brain provides “hundreds of trillions of different pathways that brain signals travel through.” * In an effort to mimic this digitally, scientists a few years ago needed more than 82,000 processors running on one of the world’s fastest supercomputers to mimic just 1 second of a normal human’s brain activity. * More recently, a research study found that the human brain can hold 10 times as much information as previously thought. All told, scientists now believe that the capacity of the human brain is about a petabyte. * (Petabyte = almost as much information as the World Wide Web!) ( Continue reading
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