Can brain injury alter our personality?


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Through history, personality people have disagreed about who we are and what makes us who we are. Character at the personal level is made up of traits like generosity, friendliness, and selfishness. More specifically, it pertains to our reactions to the environment and how we manage our emotions.
Character traits and life experiences have traditionally been seen as distinct from the brain and its physical components. In this instance, it was believed that even if the person’s brain had been harmed, their personality would not have been impacted. However, this presumption came under scrutiny after the Phineas Gage case.

Phineas Gage, then 25 years old, began working as a construction worker for a railroad company in 1848. To move the rocks during operation, explosions were necessary. An iron rod and explosive powder were used in this procedure. He blew the powder during a brief moment of distraction, and the stick struck his left jaw. The rod pierced his skull, went through his forebrain, and emerged from the top of his head quickly. The prefrontal cortex was the area that was harmed in this incident, according to modern techniques.

Gage lay on the ground, confused but awake. His body eventually recovered, but Gage’s behavior was strange. Before the accident, he was a pleasant, respectful, and intelligent employee, but after it, he was viewed as reckless, rude, and aggressive. He was careless and incapable of making wise choices.
The same thing happened to photographer Eadweard Muybridge. After a car accident in 1860, Muybridge suffered damage to his orbitofrontal cortex (part of the prefrontal cortex). He was observed to be hostile and emotionally unstable after the accident.

Damage to the orbitofrontal cortex, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, is a recurring theme in all of these cases. The prefrontal cortex was found to play a role in behavior control, emotion regulation, and appropriate response when the cases were evaluated.
The brainstem, which is located just above the spinal cord, is the area where instincts walk. After describing the brainstem’s function, the prefrontal cortex’s role as the area that regulates these instincts has become clear. However, it is still unclear how the prefrontal cortex regulates the brainstem.

The prefrontal cortex and the brainstem clearly have a physical connection, according to EMBL research. This link prevented automatic behavior. In the mouse experiment, it was discovered that the mice experienced greater fear when this connection was broken. These discoveries provide anatomical evidence for how we can control our aggressive behavior. However, the region of the hypothalamus that regulates our feelings and emotions is unaffected by this connection. The prefrontal cortex enables us to control our behavior as a result, but it has no impact on how we feel. This research also sheds light on the origins of illnesses like depression and schizophrenia, which are linked to the development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex.
When puberty starts in humans, the prefrontal cortex starts to develop. This explains why it’s difficult for kids to completely control their impulses. Researchers are still looking into the specifics of this suppression and how it affects mental illness.

A person who struggles with emotion management experiences stress as well as detrimental social changes. Many brain injury patients experience social isolation, depression, and anxiety as they try to balance their post-traumatic lives. Patients have been given access to group therapies in recent years to help them deal with this issue.

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