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Understanding the Brain

Brain Graphic helping you understand the brain by showing the different areas of the Brain.Your brain is a unique connection of nerves and blood vessels. It is the center of the nervous system and it receives, processes and sends messages to every cell in each part of the human body. Understanding the brain can better help you understand yourself. The information received is from several of our seven senses: sight (visual), sound (auditory), touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), movement (kinesthetic), taste (gustatory) and intuition (spiritual). The incoming information is originally processed by the protective/reactive (survival) areas of the brain.

These areas function in a reactive way to help regulate our bodies and protect us. The autonomic system, subconsciousness, controls actions from the heartbeat, to maintaining temperature, to freezing us in place in the presence of danger. The frontal part of our brain allows for completion, and it is the responsive, thoughtful part of our brain that acts as the braking system to prevent over-reactivity. Thus, for incoming information to maneuver together and be processed, integrated and then routed out (response), the brain must function fluidly. This process is called brain regulation. This normally means that the brain and its tremendous network are flexible, elastic, and self-regulating.

But if there is a brain injury, the system becomes irregular or, in other words, the brain gets trapped within certain brainwave patterns. For that reason, it is not springy and resilient, and often grows more over-reactive (hyper stimulation — pressure). When this happens, to protect itself, the brain shuts down causing depression, fatigue, inattentiveness.

Your Brain After an Injury

The more difficult the task, the more brain activity and stimulation is needed to complete the task. Communication between parts of the brain is crucial for coordination of neuronal activity that underlies higher cognitive functioning and decision making.

After an injury, the brain segregates the injured area and moves its resources toward recovering and healing the damaged areas.

When someone experiences trauma, activity between brain areas is interrupted to prevent additional strain on the organ.

Brain Scans and What They Can See

Having simple comprehension of brain scans and what elements of their brain they can observe is valuable. Most brain scans focus on “grey matter,” that’s the physiological brain arrangement that does much of the information processing. There are three main scanning approaches for observing grey matter, a CT scan, an MRI scan, and an SWI scan. A CT Scan (Computerized Tomography) is the standard of maintenance following a concussion and may be one of those lowest-resolution scans of grey issue. It is frequently used as it is relatively cheap and widely available. Having this type of picture physicians can begin to identify areas at which brain communication was lost.

The brain vasculature (capillaries, arteries, and veins) could be ripped by trauma or by internal problems such as a tumor. The results of the bleed may be seen on a few of the three tests previously mentioned, though they will not immediately show in the circulatory system.

The next level of detail would be the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The science behind this scan is complex, but it produces a strong magnetic field around the brain and distinguishes tissue types by how they respond to the region. The MRI measures the same grey matter that the CT scan does, providing doctors an image with a bit better detail. There are two types, a T3 or T4 MRI. The T4 is the highest quality scan.

All three of these experiments revolve round the grey matter of the brain, which is beneficial to test, but is only 1 part of the brain structure. There is also a circulatory system with its many blood vessels.

A third system of the brain is called “white matter”. The grey matter is thought to be the physical structure of the brain that processes information, whereas the white matter acts as a communication highway, electrically taking messages to different regions of the human body or mind. A CT scan uses many layers of X-rays to show the structure of your mind, detecting brain injuries along with big cysts or hemorrhages.

The white matter system might also be ripped or affected by any kind of brain injury, but will not appear within an SWI or MRI, let alone a CT scan, because those scans are for detecting grey matter. The scan for white matter is called a DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) which is a accommodated MRI that observes neuron pathways, the white matter superhighways.


Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971
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Dr. Diane is a catalyst for change

Image Credit Elaine Boucher

Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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