Brain Structure and Behavior Paper Sonya Bass, Jennifer Lovejoy, Kimberly Housley, Mary Long, Jean Dimarco PSY 340 July 12, 2010 Dr. Ricky Fenwick Brain Structure and Behavior Paper The brain is the organ where the information of the body is stored. The brain allows one to think, see, taste, smell, move, and feel. The brain communicates with chemical reactions and electrical signals, which are transmitted throughout the body by nerves. The three main parts of the brain are the cerebellum, the cerebrum, and the brain stem. At the junction of the cerebrum and spinal cord is where the brainstem is located.
The brainstem is a thick stalk like organ about two inches long, and responsible for our conscience, sexual arousal, and basic attentions. Parts of the brain stem include the puns, medulla oblongata, and the midbrain (Explore). The brainstem, functions, structure damages, and behavior changes, as well as future research and treatments that may occur within the brainstem are examined in this paper. Brain Stem Structure and Functions The brain stem is a structure in the brain located in the space next to the cerebrum and is attached to the spinal column.
Consisting of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata the brain stem has the immense responsibility of relaying all information to and from our bodies through the central nervous system, (Brain Structures and Their Functions, 2010). Structurally the brain stem is formed by the midbrain, located next to the thalamus, the pons, which is the structure in the middle and the medulla oblongata which is located at its base. The midbrain, also known as the mesencephalon, includes the tectum and tegmentum. These segments help to perform functions such as vision, hearing, eye movement, and body movement.
Helping to enhance voluntary motor functioning is the cerebral peduncle which consists of a bundle of axons which extends from the cerebral cortex through the brain stem. The pons is the part of the metencephalon in the hindbrain which is most notably responsible for the regulation of sleep, also assists in the relay of sensory information between the cerebrum and cerebellum as well as motor control and even facial sensation. Cerebellar peduncles that connect the cerebellum to the pons and midbrain, are part of its structure.
A bridge-like structure, the pons links different parts of the brain and serves as a relay station from the medulla to the higher cortical structures of the brain, (Johnson, 2007). Made up of bundles of nerve fibers, the medulla oblongata is the elongated part of the brain stem located at the base of the brain and is attached to the spinal cord. This segment of the stem is responsible for involuntary, yet extremely important bodily functions such as heart rate, swallowing, breathing, and blood pressure. Damage and Its Consequences These responsibilities are what make injuries to the brain stem so life threatening.
Most brain stem damage is caused by blunt trauma, where the brain is jolted violently and collides inside the skull, or oxygen depletion to the brain for a prolonged period of time. Any brain stem injury can result in very serious complications, such as communication, behavioral, cognitive, or sensory processing difficulties. The results are even more devastating in severe cases which end in comas, stupors, vegetative states, or death. Damage can occur upon direct impact, or subsequent bleeding, and swelling of the brain. The results are even more devastating in severe cases ending in stupors, vegetative states, death, or prolonged comas.
As the brain stem controls several functions, other parts of the brain are susceptible from the same trauma. A coma is a deep unconscious state from which one cannot be aroused. There is no reaction to one’s environment when in such a state, not even basic responses. The most common cause of coma is a heavy blow to the cranium. Recovery is based largely on causation. When in a stupor, a person can be aroused by vigorous, physical stimulation in an unresponsive state. It is usually caused by a drug or disorder that involves both sides of the brain having to do with maintain consciousness.
Tests such as blood work, brain imaging, physical exam, and input from family and friends will help doctors identify and pinpoint the cause. The brain normally can adjust its own consciousness and activity as needed based on information received from the body’s senses. Different types of injuries need different kinds of treatments. They can range from monitoring the condition, to surgery. Different types of injuries require particular treatments. Surgery is needed to remove blood or foreign material, or to reconstruct parts of the skull. Very often brain trauma causes tissue to swell against the inflexible bone.
In these cases, a neurosurgeon may relieve the pressure inside the skull by placing a ventriculostomy drain that removes cerebrospinal fluid. If the swelling is massive, a neurosurgeon may remove a piece of the skull so that the brain has room to expand; the surgeon keeps and reimplants the bone after the swelling has gone down significantly. (Lipson & Gargollo, 2007) Monitoring the brain stem injury takes place in the Intensive Care Unit to prevent further injury to the area. There is no miracle cure for a brain stem injury. The patient needs constant care to make sure that nothing will disrupt the healing process.
The only medication that can be given to help is for other problems that may arise from the injury and monitoring (Lipson & Gargollo, 2007). Neurological exams are performed to ensure that there are no further injuries to the brain and that symptoms are improving. There is no miracle cure for a brain stem injury. The only medication that can be given to help is for other problems that may arise during the injury and monitoring (Lipson & Gargollo, 2007). Brain stem injuries are very fragile and because of its proximity to the spine, could result in paralysis or death if not properly cared for.
If a brain stem injury brain stem injury, it is best to be under the proper care at a hospital. The doctor will likely perform a Glasgow Coma Scale test to see how you rate. There are three tests whose results are added together to get your score. A higher score is indicative of a concussion and a lower score is indicative of severe head traumas (Lipson & Gargollo, 2007) Treatments and Future Research According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2010) physical therapy is a must in the treatment of brain stem injuries.
Physical therapy is chosen on an individual basis and it is designed according to the individual’s needs. The individual may need speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, psychological help, and medication therapy. Medication therapy, usually barbiturates are used for pain management. Environmental modification is also used in rehabilitation. Environmental modification or changing the individual’s living space is used in rehabilitation. The individual rehabilitation program allows individuals to improve the ability to function. There are also individuals that suffer from persistent vegetative state (PVS).
This occurs when the individual is unconscious and is not aware of their surroundings. Currently, there is no cure for PVS but most physicians make sure that the individual is clear from infections such as pneumonia. Also, physicians insert a respirator so that airways are open. If the patient does not awake from PVS within 30 days, then usually the family will be asked whether or not to keep the individual on the respirator (Kaufman, 1997). Conclusion Research has given new light to the treatment of brain stem damage. Stem cell research has shown that these cells can be used in order to restore the damaged tissue in the brain stem.
Neural stem cells are able to find the damage within the region and assist in the restoration in the integrity of the damaged tissue. The issue with the stem cell research is that the neural stem cells may get out of control and form tumors. Also, another problem may be that the neural cells may not form synaptic connections with the damaged cells in the region (O’ Brien, 2009) The brainstem is an essential part of the function of the human body. The brainstem is responsible for the breathing, tasting, hearing, most of all heart rate. The loss or damage to the brainstem will affect basic survival and is often fatal (Brain).
Brainstem damage could result in communication, behavior, and cognitive disorders. Stem cell research has brought new focus on brainstem damage and the disorders of the brain. Scientist continues to work to develop treatments, medication, and complete recover for those in rehabilitation centers or those in a vegetative state. References Bloom, F. “Brain, Mind, and Behavior”. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman and Co. , 1985. Brain, (2000) In the Royal Society of Medicine Health Encyclopedia, Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/rsmhealth/brain Explore the Brain, (2001) EnchantedLearning. om. Retrieved from http://www. enchantedlearning. com/subjects/anatomy/brain/index Igou, S. (2010). Brain Trauma- SYMPTOMS OF BRAIN INJURY. Retrieved July 11, 2010, from braininjury. com: http://www. braininjury. com/symptoms. html Kaufman D (1997): Recognition and Treatment of Patients in the Persistent Vegetative State. http://www. ajmc. com/media/pdf/AJMC1997DecKaufman1875_1880. pdf Lipson, P. C. (2007, March). Brain Trauma, Concussion and Coma — The Dana Guide, The Dana Foundation. Retrieved July 11, 2010, from Dana. org: http://www. dana. org/news/brainhealth/detail. aspx? id=9790
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