Brain-injured patients need therapies based on cognitive neuroscience

Patients with traumatic brain injuries are not benefiting from recent advances in cognitive neuroscience research — and they should be, scientists report in a special issue of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

Those who treat brain-injured patients rarely make use of new scientific discoveries about the workings of the brain. Instead, doctors, nurses and emergency personnel rely on a decades-old tool, the Glasgow coma scale, to categorize brain injuries as mild, moderate or severe. Brain scans are sometimes performed to help identify damaged regions, and then most patients receive one or more of the following four diagnoses: coma (no response to sensory stimulation), delirium (impaired ability to sustain attention), amnesia (impaired memory) and dysexecutive syndrome (impaired ability to engage in goal-directed thought).

These crude classifications reveal little about the underlying brain mechanisms that are damaged as a result of brain trauma, said Aron Barbey, a University of Illinois professor of neuroscience, of psychology, and of speech and hearing science. He and his colleagues propose that doctors take a deeper look at the brain networks that enable the regulation and control of attention, memory and thought — termed “cognitive control processes” — and use this knowledge to develop more targeted treatment strategies. Barbey is a professor in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I.

“Traumatic brain injury is a global public health epidemic with an incidence that continues to rise,” Barbey said. “By 2020, the World Health Organization projects TBI will be the world’s leading cause of neurological disability across all age groups.

“An emerging area of research seeks to develop better ways to assess traumatic brain injury. Recent findings demonstrate that multiple, interdependent brain networks drive and organize cognition. It is these networks that are highly susceptible to brain injury,” he said.

Cognitive neuroscientists have identified dozens of brain networks, each of which engages a specific set of brain structures to perform particular tasks. Each node in a network communicates with the others via axons, the nerve fibers that bundle together to form white-matter tracts.

“There are three core networks that support cognitive control processes that often are impaired in traumatic brain injury,” Barbey said. “The ‘salience network’ directs attention to significant events in our environment and is known to enable coordinated behavior. The ‘default mode network’ supports an internal focus of attention, enabling autobiographical memory and the ability to envision future events. Finally, the ‘central executive network’ directs attention to the external environment and supports goal-directed thought, such as planning and problem solving.”

Disruption of the salience network corresponds to symptoms seen in those diagnosed with delirium, Barbey said. A diagnosis of amnesia corresponds to disruption of the default mode network, and dysexecutive syndrome is associated with damage to the central executive network, he said. (See infographic.)

A coma diagnosis

… Continue reading here.
Fitness News — Sciencedaily
— Courtesy “Science News Daily” (ScienceNewsDaily.com)

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    • doctor_beth "doctor_beth"
    • April 29, 2015
    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A little difficult to fill initially, but very good overall, March 9, 2011
    doctor_beth “doctor_beth” (Upstate NY USA) –
    (#1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)

    This review is from: Gymnic / 10″ Softgym, Assorted Colors (One of Pink, Blue or Yellow) (Misc.)
    I received this mini ball as a gift, and I have been using it for fitness, mainly with the workout Tracey Mallett-Pilates Super Sculpt. I also purchased a similar ball, 9″ Body Back Ball & Pump, so I will be comparing the two balls in this review.

    The Overball that I have looks like the blue one pictured above. Although you can’t quite see this in the photo, the surface of the ball is covered with slightly raised dots; this improves the ball’s gripping surface, making it easy for the Overball to stay in place under your back, behind your knee, etc. The Overball comes with a small, short plastic straw to inflate it and a small plastic pin to use once the ball is inflated. The ball fills up easily enough with the straw; I found that the inflation process took only a minute or so. The problem I had was when I went to insert the pin. The Overball does not retain air very well at all, so every time I tried to insert the pin, the ball deflated almost completely in the brief moments it took me to get the pin in place. I had to repeat the process several times; finally, I inflated the Overball way beyond the point where I wanted it to be, put the pin in as quickly as I could, and was satisfied with the results. I did not have this same problem when inflating my Body Back Ball (which comes with its own nice little hand pump); that ball definitely seemed to hold the air better to allow for pin placement.

    In terms of actual performance, I have had no problems with the Overball. It does seem a little squishier than my Body Back Ball, but that might be because of the inflation issues–if you are looking for a firm ball, this is definitely NOT the right choice! But for use with Pilates and other core workouts, where a slightly deflated ball is desirable, the Overball works quite well, and I would recommend it overall.


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    • L. Bozarth
    • April 30, 2015
    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great Company!, January 31, 2009
    L. Bozarth (Boise) –

    This review is from: Gymnic / 10″ Softgym, Assorted Colors (One of Pink, Blue or Yellow) (Misc.)
    When I received this ball in the mail it had a hole in it. I called the company and they said to just throw it away and they’ll send me another one free of charge. That’s great customer service! As far as results it’s still too soon to tell, but my jeans are fitting better in the tummy area.


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