"How can the study of brain damage inform our understanding of the human brain?
The study of brain injury is an imperative tool when trying to understand the in-depth workings of “the most complex object in the known universe”.
We have been studying the brain for thousands of years. From Hippocrates in 468BC, describing epilepsy as a disturbance of the brain, to our modern day MRI and CT scans able to image the brain in great detail our knowledge is always growing. However the study of Brain Injury has given us the most advances throughout this journey of discovery. The study of brain injury has given us great insight into the functionality of different regions allowing us to locate the areas of the brain affected by neurological disorders and other diseases and thus develop new strategies to treat brain disorders.
There are two main types of brain injury. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by an external force such as a blow to the head that causes the brain to move inside the skull resulting in damage. An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) occurs at the cellular level. These include degenerative diseases such as parkinsons, brain development problems such as autism, blood flow issues including stroke and infection by bacteria and viruses.
One of the pioneers of brain injury research was Pierre Paul Broca who reported inferior frontal gyrus impairments lead to a loss of ability to produce language after injury to this area. Since then, the approximate region he identified has become known as Broca's area, and the deficit in language production as Broca's aphasia.
Another prominent name in this field was Roger W. Sperry who won a Nobel prize in 1981 for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres. The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right, connected in the middle by a bridge known as the corpus callosum. People who suffered from epilepsy would sometimes have their corpus collosum...
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