The science of the relationship between the brain and behavior

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Published on 07/24/2022 | author dr Jamuna Rajeswaran & Akhil. R

Humans differ from other species by having a huge brain that allows us to envision a future and influence it through what we do in the present. Through the use of experience, knowledge, and insight, our ancestors realized that they could anticipate threats and opportunities, and take action to take advantage and avoid threats.David Suzuki

The human brain is a fascinating and mysterious organ that monitors and regulates our bodily functions, thoughts, behaviors and emotions. It receives and interprets information about the environment, stores it in an easily accessible form, maintains our posture and controls our actions. It helps solve problems ranging from purely practical to highly abstract, communicate with other people through language, feel and express various emotions such as happiness, fear, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, etc. Not only is the brain capable of a wide range of tasks, but it can also do some or all of them at once. One of the most difficult and fascinating questions in modern science is how to do this. Nonetheless, extremely significant advances have been made in the fields of neuroscience, neurology and neuropsychology in the last decade, and there is growing optimism among neuroscientists that real understanding is beginning to take shape.

The systematic, objective, and scientific field of neuropsychology that studies the relationship between the brain and behavior, studies the brain and attempts to relate variations in individual behavior to changes that are taking place. The goal of neuropsychology is to understand how the structure and neural networks of the brain produce and regulate a variety of behaviors and mental functions, including emotion, personality, reasoning, learning and memory, problem solving, and awareness.

Neuropsychology studies both healthy and injured brain systems to learn more about the connections between the brain and behavior. The clinical neuropsychologist can use neuropsychological tests to determine whether abnormal behavior is the result of an emotional or learned process or of biological brain damage. In addition, they created the theory of localization of functions, which states that each type of behavior is controlled by a different, specific area of ​​the brain.

Language is localized and lateralized on the left side, meaning it is on one side of the brain. The discovery gave rise to the lateralization principle of operation, which states that one side of the brain can take on tasks that the other does not share.

The assumption that brain activities are localized was challenged in the 19th century by work by French physiologist Pierre Flourence and later by German physiologist Fredrich L. Goltz. Small portions of the cortex were removed to make animal models of human clinical problems with the expectation that the animals would lose certain functions.

Florence discovered that instead, over time, the animals recovered from their early limitations to the point where they now appear to be functioning normally. As a result, a pigeon that originally could neither fly nor eat eventually regained both abilities. Though impaired, the regained abilities strongly suggested that the cortex could be replaced by other areas of the brain.

These early studies laid the foundation for neuropsychology, which emphasizes functional restoration and promoting recovery through rehabilitation in even the most severe cases of brain damage. Neuropsychologists understand that despite the possibility that not all function fully returns after injury, the plasticity of the brain can be harnessed to yield significant functional gains.

Lesion localization was a primary goal of neuropsychology before the development of neuroimaging. The focus of neuropsychology today is on differential diagnosis when lesions may not be visible or when there are no obvious biomarkers of the disease. For example, since various types of dementia are typically diagnosed based on patterns of apparent cognitive loss and behavioral problems, neuropsychologists help in the early detection of these disorders. Neuropsychological tests also support the diagnosis of non-neurological diseases such as depression or somatoform disorders that can impair cognitive performance.

Clinical neuropsychology and experimental neuropsychology are the two primary subfields of neuropsychology. Clinical neuropsychology treats patients with brain lesions. These lesions can be the result of tumors or diseases, brain trauma or physical injury, or other biochemical abnormalities possibly caused by toxic substances. They could also be the result of additional lesions. Using special testing techniques, the clinical neuropsychologist assesses abnormalities in IQ, personality and sensorimotor skills and assigns them to specific affected brain regions. Clinical neuropsychologists use these measurements not only for the practical clinical task of aiding in the diagnosis of brain lesions and the rehabilitation of brain-injured individuals, but also for scientific research into the relationship between the brain and behavior.

Experimental neuropsychologists, on the other hand, work with healthy people whose brains are undamaged. This is the most recent branch of neuropsychology to emerge, and it has spread rapidly thanks to the development of numerous tools that can be used in the laboratory to study higher brain functions.

To draw inferences about brain organization, subjects are typically forced to perform activities while their accuracy or reaction time is recorded. The development of imaging techniques and medical research have enabled neuroscientists to study in depth the many functions of the brain.

The structural and functional aspects of the brain can be studied in detail using a variety of state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). ), electroencephalography and electromyography (EMG).

Electroencephalogram – a recent development in the field of neuropsychological rehabilitation is neurofeedback training (EEG-NFT). The therapeutic method of neurofeedback training (NFT) provides the patient with real-time feedback on the electrical activity or “brain waves” in their brain. This is measured by placing electrodes on the scalp. A video display with sound or a multimedia display with bars, graphics, video games, and movies are common forms of feedback. Neurofeedback training was developed to enable conscious control of brain wave activity.

A positive “reward” response is provided to the patient whose brain activity changes as the therapist desires, and when it regresses, either negative feedback or no feedback is provided (depending on the protocol). Rewards can be as simple as a change in tone or as sophisticated as a specific character action in a video game.

Numerous empirical studies have shown that neurofeedback training can alter electrical activity in the brain, which in turn alters the problematic symptoms. We have a wealth of mysteries that could shed light on how the brain works, and there is still much more to discover.

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