Are Undiagnosed Brain Injuries the Cause for Homelessness, Poor Grades, and Crimes? | NEIH

Updated: Mar 19


What is a Brain and Why is it important?

The brain is one of the most important organs in the body. It regulates much of our behavior and even the activities of other organs. The brain is responsible for our speech, emotions, feelings, and all types of behavior. This organ is made up of white and gray matter sort of like the tissue of other organs. Neurons (cell) are the basic unit of the brain and allow information to sent to different parts. The grey matter holds all the neurons and the white matter connects the grey parts together. This complex system of synapses allows information to be sent across the brain to different areas, which regulates our behavior and various functions. For example:

  • If you touch a hot frying pan signals will be sent to your brain and then your brain will register that it is hot and send signals back to your hand and tell you to pull your hand away. This is actually an involuntary response, we do not voluntarily move our hand away from the hot pan.

But the brain does more than just pulling our hands away from hot objects. It regulates our emotions and controls our responses to a certain stimulus. The stimulus in the example above was a hot pan, but what if the stimulus is another person or a stressful situation? If the hand is damaged it is not going to be able to perform its function, which is to grab objects. If the brain is damaged it's responsible to suggest it wouldn't be able to perform its function either or do its job in a way we would see as normal.


Parts and Function of the Brain

The brain is divided into 4 main parts. Each part controls a particular function or action.


  • The outer most layer of the Brain in the cortex. The cortex controls things like thinking and voluntary movements.

  • The brain stem connects the brain and the spinal cord. The brain stem controls function like breathing and sleeping.

  • Another area is called the basal ganglia, which helps send the right signals to the right place.

  • The Cerebellum is located at the back and bottom of the brain and regulates hand-eye coordination and balance.

The Brain is also divided into 4 main lobes which can also regulate a particular function or action.

  • The frontal lobe controls judgment, behavior, physical reaction, attention, and smell.

  • The parietal lobe controls the sense of touch, response to internal stimuli and reading and language.

  • The temporal lobe controls fear, sense of identity, memories, hearing, and speech.

  • The occipital lobe regulates the brain's visual processing system and some reading.


How are Brain Injuries and Bad Behaviour Linked?

Daniel Amen is an American psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist and for many years has study brain injuries and the effect it can have on behavior. In his 2013 Ted talks titled The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans, Dr. Amen explains that the brain activity of murders, criminals and the homeless (mentally ill) is very different from that of a normal person, and this difference can be the result of undiagnosed brain trama. Dr. Amen also found that these areas of the damaged brain can be repaired through a specialized treatment His approach will not treat the behavior itself but the actual cause of it. If implemented we could potentially see an effective rehabilitation of criminals in our society. The current correctional system does little in terms of rehabilitation and when inmates leave a correctional facility they often return.


Why Do People Do Bad Things?

In Daniel Amen's research "Brain SPECT Findings and Aggressiveness" brain scans were conducted on 40 adults and young adults that had acted violently within six months prior to the study. This violence included attacking another person or destroying property. Dr. Amen then compared his scans of the 40 people that showed violent behavior to the brain scans of a different group of 40 people who showed non-violent behavior. The research team found that people that showed violent behavior had a decrease in frontal cortex (thinking and voluntary movements) activity, increase activity in the frontal lobe (judgment and physical reaction), and abnormalities in the temporal lobe (fear and speech).


The Amens Clinics Method

Dr. Amen created The Amen Clinics to treats patients that have a range of mental health illness and medical conditions. Some of these include ADHD, Addiction, Alzheimer's, Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Depression, PTSD, and Traumatic Brain Injuries. Patients are assessed once they receive a SPECT. SPECT is an acronym for Single-photon emission computed tomography, this test will show the activity of the brain. As we explained above each part of the brain regulates a particular function, so if an area of the brain is damaged the function that area controls can be affected. The amens clinic provides services that stimulate blood flow to a particular region of the brain. Some treatment methods include:

  • Brain Spect

  • Concussion Rescue Program

  • Memory Rescue Program

  • Psychiatric Evaluations

  • Interactive Metronome Training

  • Brain Health Nutrition Coaching



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