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Brain Area Affects Sense of 'Self'

Old 04-20-2011, 09:54 PM
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Brain Area Affects Sense of 'Self'

I was listening to NPR's 'Fresh Air' podcast today. She was interviewing Jon Sarkin who had suffered a massive stroke and gone from a happy-go-lucky doctor to manically-compulsive artist. He had essentailly become a different person.
He is the subject of the book 'Shadows Bright as Glass. The book describes Sarkin's journey. It also raises larger questions about identity and what makes us each who we are.
Shadows Bright As Glass: When Brain Injuries Transform Into Art : NPR


I thought it was such an interesting subject

Also found this online:
Brain Area Affects Sense of 'Self' - ABC News

Scientists have pinpointed a key area of the brain that appears to govern personality, including one's religious, social and political beliefs, and even style of dress, according to a new study.

The section of the brain was isolated after studying a group of 72 people suffering from a rare degenerative disorder similar to Alzheimer's disease called frontotemporal dementia. Damage to the right frontal lobe of the brain by the disease creates radical changes in the identities of the patients, according to the study.

"We think of our 'self' — including our beliefs and values and even the way we dress — as something we determine, not just an anatomical process," Bruce Miller, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco and author of the study, said in a statement. "But this research shows that one area of the brain controls much of our sense of self, and damage to that area can dramatically change who we are."
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:26 AM
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Very interesting. I recently heard a man speak who suffers from this rare form of dementia and he said he is experiencing some of the things that this article speaks about.
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:58 AM
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Thanks azureseas, this is a fascinating topic. I find it interesting how a person can undergo something like this and still maintain a continuity of experience that spans the old and the new personality.

A TED Conference talk on this topic from a few years back is pretty good:

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions -- motion, speech, self-awareness -- shut down one by one. An astonishing story.
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:18 AM
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This is very interesting!

2 years ago my sister had brain surgery to cure a seizure disorder...highly invasive and risky with no guarantee of success. They removed a portion of her brain about the size of a gold ball. I have seen no difference in her personality since then, and she experienced a 100% cure

Just thought i would add this as a sign of the resiliancy of the brain as well.

I have noticed a definite increase in my thinking in the past month or so...its nice, I used to pride myself on being pretty sharp and I know I lost a lot of that towards the end of my drinking, so it's very hopeful that I am catching glimmers of it again.

I also do a lot of brain teasers to help rebuild the damage I did from all the booze.
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:14 PM
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Really interesting article! Cheers!

Do you find the brain teasers help LaFemme?
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:36 PM
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Doesn't this just make you think then, that all the alcohol put into our systems must cause brain damage. When someone is drunk they dramatically change their personality!! whether this damage is permanent or temporary would depend upon the amount they drink persistently over time, which also answers for me the "blackouts" I used get when drunk, periods of time that I cannot remember and never ever can remember even after long periods of sobriety. Also the way people behave when drunk that is totally out of character from their normal selves.
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Old 04-23-2011, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by LaFemme View Post
I have noticed a definite increase in my thinking in the past month or so...its nice, I used to pride myself on being pretty sharp and I know I lost a lot of that towards the end of my drinking, so it's very hopeful that I am catching glimmers of it again.

I also do a lot of brain teasers to help rebuild the damage I did from all the booze.
I still feel less-than-optimal, like something is not right, still waiting for my "up-tick".

The first time I quit, for 34 days, I definitely felt an improvement, but then I went back to drinking at even more obscene levels for almost a year and a half, and the improvement has not been as noticeable this time.

Perhaps I should hit Chessmaster on the computer... :-)

I did read somewhere that after sufficient time, the brain will re-build NEW pathways to perform the old tasks, and provided there was no prior permanent damage, and there are no more "relapses" it (functionally) eventually becomes similar to non-drinkers.

They did MRI scans and other things, though, and noticed that the same mental tasks in long-term-abstinent former alcoholics was being handled by a different part of the brain than in the non-drinkers!
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Old 04-23-2011, 07:53 PM
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Juggling makes your brain bigger

Skip the Chessmaster JB. There is another study on juggling that shows both an increase in the amount and density of grey matter after six weeks of juggling 20 minutes a day.

I think concentration is the key. Now that I have given up better living through chemicals, I am happiest when I am absorbed in something. My yoga/meditation practice is fitting the bill, but I seem to be on a plateau right now, so perhaps I need to change some things.
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Beardo View Post
Really interesting article! Cheers!

Do you find the brain teasers help LaFemme?
My memory is definitely improving...thank God! I don't know what percentage I owe to puzzles, brainteasers, exercise, diet. Probably a combination of things done over a long period of time.

Like JB I quit for 11 days 6 years ago and everything bounced back like a rubber band...weight, brain, mood, etc. Then I drank again and spent 5 years rarely putting together more than a few days sober. I think when I finally sobered up I thought I would bounce back like the time earlier...not so...I am fighting for everything I have this round. Well everything but the sobriety....that is blessedly easy

Would love to have had a brain scan 10 months ago and then again at one year
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:04 AM
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I never had to use a calendar in my life. I never missed appointments, never double-booked, even while I was doing dope and drinking. Not too long after I quit, my memory went downhill. I sort of wonder if it was delayed affects of the drugs.

I realize 30 is not old (though in a couple weeks I'll be celebrating my second 29th birthday) but it's hard for me to guage how much of my bad memory/ deteriorating teeth/ etc. is a normal progression of not being 19 anymore and how much of it is due to the meth/coke/various pills/alcohol I poured into my body.

And as a note about the actual topic: My sister had a traumatic brain injury in a car accident when she was 15. Before, she was a happy, outgoing, friendly, social teenager. She is now 31 and chronically depressed, aggressive, unhappy, anti-social, unfriendly, introvert whose favorite pasttime seems to involve belittling everyone to make herself feel important. Seems her Self was injured. And I won't lie, I don't like who she is now, I miss my sister I knew when we were kids, and I really don't want anything to do with her anymore.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:51 AM
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Thanks, will add them into my daily routine
My memory is certainly alot better than it was when I was drinking and using, but still nothing compared to what it was before all that.
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:55 AM
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I often can't think of the right word mid conversation, frustrating
Same thing happens when I'm writing, which isn't often as I have a visual job and lucky google is there to help me out
Even replying to posts here can take a ridiculous amount of time to try and say what I want to say. I really admire a lot of peoples written communication skills on this site

I just looked up how to improve brain memory function and found this list.
I like that there are some different suggestions, like hanging out with friends, I can do that!

How to Improve Your Memory: Tips and Exercises to Boost Brainpower

~Don’t skimp on exercise or sleep

~Make time for friends and fun
Humans are highly social animals. We’re not meant to thrive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Relationships stimulate our brains—in fact, interacting with others may be the best kind of brain exercise.

~Keep stress in check

~Bulk up on brain-boosting foods
Get your omega-3s. More and more evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health.
Fish is a particularly rich source of omega-3, especially cold water “fatty fish” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. In addition to boosting brainpower, eating fish may also lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re not a fan of fish, consider turning to fish oil supplements. Other non-fish sources of omega-3s include walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.


~Give your brain a workout
By the time you’ve reached adulthood, your brain has developed millions of neural pathways that help you process information quickly, solve familiar problems, and execute familiar tasks with a minimum of mental effort. But if you always stick to these well-worn paths, you aren’t giving your brain the stimulation it needs to keep growing and developing. You have to shake things up from time to time!
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:22 AM
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I've heard learning a foreign language or an instrument as an adult is a good way to exercise your brain.

My Grandmother and Grandfather always did puzzles and were sharp as two tacks until my grandmother passed away and my Grandfather stopped caring about things and spent too much time alone.
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:43 PM
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ha! you just hit upon my two weakest skill sets, foreign languages and music,
despite months of working in Europe in my 20's just about the only thing I managed to learn was how to order a beer, go figure.
Maybe there is some correlation :-)
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