injury news, Vol 3
What do you remember about the events of September
11th? If you're like most people, those memories are highly
inaccurate. This is one disconcerting finding of numerous memory
studies exploring how and what people recall.
Memories, it seems, are far from factual. Researchers
expected "flashbulb" type memories of these traumatic
events - sharp, accurate mental images of what happened.
Instead they got fictionalized accounts. In people's memories,
what happened is jumbled together with what they wished had
happened, and what they learned later had happened.
most distressing is people's confidence in their memories. Studies
showed no correlation between confidence and accuracy. In other
words, people are very poor judges of what they do and do not
Forgetting things is bad enough...but even what we
think we remember, we may not!
Adapted from a Wall Street Journal
Motor neurons produced from embryonic
Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have succeeded in
getting cultured mouse embryonic stem cells to differentiate into
functioning motor neurons. Ultimately, the same type of approach
might be used to grow human motor neurons from stem cells, thus enabling
regeneration of nerve tissue lost to disease or trauma.
Reported in the
journal Cell and published on-line July 17, 2002, these experiments
used chemical signals to coax "naive neuroprogenitor" cells into
differentiating into spinal cord motor neurons.
developing spinal cord, genes are being turned on and off rapidly,
transforming immature cells into billions of specialized neural
cells. Harnessing this process could some day allow the repair
of diseased or damaged components of the mature central nervous system.
of mild brain injury benefit from receiving information booklet
Brain injury survivors given a booklet that outlines the symptoms associated with mild
brain injury and suggests coping strategies will experience less anxiety
and fewer on-going problems. That's the conclusion of a recent study
of 202 adults with mild head injuries.
Participants assigned to an intervention group received an information
booklet one week after injury. Three months later, they reported
fewer symptoms, better cognitive performance and psychological adjustment
than brain injury survivors not receiving the booklet.
Reported in Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
"Slow down" to recover from mild brain injury
In the U.S. alone, more than $1.5 billion is spent annually to treat
mild brain injury (MBI). Such mild brain injuries often leave
survivors incapacitated for months.
A study reported in Research in Nursing & Health (Vol 25,
Issue 4, 2002) found standard emergency room treatment for mild brain
injuries to be inadequate.
All participants demonstrated distractibility, impulsivity,
irritability, and impaired executive functioning during the 24 hours after
injury. One in five continued to struggle with these issues
throughout the 30-day study. Loss of consciousness was associated
with slower healing.
The report recommends that survivors of mild brain injury be given
discharge directives to reduce cognitive demands for at least 48 hours -
or 30+ days for those with loss of consciousness.
Depression: brain hemispheres out-of-sync?
Research suggests that illnesses such as depression may be associated
with one half of the brain. Activating the brain's other, healthier
half, can improve the condition. Activating the unhealthy
hemisphere, on the other hand, can intensify problems. So says a
report in Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology.
In healthy individuals, the two parts of the brain work together
harmoniously. However, it is thought that in people suffering from
an illness like depression, one hemisphere may sabotage or dominate the
To test this theory, Fredric Schiffer, associate attending psychiatrist
at McLean Hospital, used a goggle test, directing stimuli to first one
side of the brain, then the other, to determine which hemisphere was
healthy in each of 37 depressed patients. Patients then underwent a
two-week course of treatment to the left hemasphere, using electromagnetic
Individuals identified through the goggle test as having healthy left
hemispheres experienced a 42% reduction in depression symptoms, measured
by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). As predicted,
individuals identified through the goggle test as having healthy right
hemispheres showed significantly less improvement (11%) with the left