***********Scene 21 - That’s Just How She Feels***********
A lot of times, in Traumatic Brain Injury,
one of the parts of the brain that is injured is the Frontal Lobe Region of the brain,
this is the part of the brain involved in emotional self-control,
and for Sarah, ever since her accident, she gets real excited, real quick.
She also Cries a lot.
Doesn't understand it, that’s just
how she feels.
Special Thanks to Dr. Jonathon Freezer for reviewing and verifying my understanding of the medical science behind this article.
The Frontal Lobe region of the brain is located - as implied by the name - in the front of the head. As most evolutionarily advanced region of the brain, this area is sometimes (often) cited as the part of the brain that “makes us who we are”. It is the emotional control center for a person and, as currently understood, it is the home for personality.
In brief, the function of this area of the brain is sorting things out - taking the stimuli delivered by other regions of the brain (senses, memories, instincts…), processing this data, and creating a response. This is the part of the brain that’s involved with executive functions - these are advanced cognitive functions of the brain and include processes such as problem solving, recognizing and adhering to social norms, creating a plan to achieve a goal, and other activities that involve coordinating multiple brain functions. To provide an example of this in work, let’s look at the situation of deciding what clothes to wear to a party. In this instance, the frontal lobe region - by coordinating memories of past encounters, with a prediction of what type of social group will be present at the party, with a reasoning about what outfit highlights your best features, with an understanding of contemporary fashion… - lets you know that you’re outfit tonight will be DYN-O-MITE!
Furthermore, some of the stimuli that this area of the brain receives is emotion. Fear, love, joy, sadness, and other root emotions are fed to this region of the brain so that it can process the immediate sensation and filter it so that one can react in an appropriate manner. Please note, this is not where an emotion originates, but a stop along the way - prior to our experience of this emotion. The raw emotion - fear, love, joy, sadness - is tempered by reason. When you show up at the party dressed like a supermodel and a landslide of compliments is pilled upon you - this was your goal and joy rushes through your body, but - because your brain provides the appropriate filtering about what is socially acceptable - instead of rushing about and hugging all friends and strangers, you simply nod, give a slight smile, say “Thank you”, and move on.
It is this advanced cognition, reasoning, and emotional regulation that decides how one reacts to stimuli - in other words, it forms one’s personality. That said, the frontal lobe is the region of the brain least necessary for physical survival - being a breathing organism that is classified as living - but this region of the brain most necessary for our being recognized as individual persons.
Being in the front of the skull, it is also the part of the brain that is post often damaged in a traumatic brain injury. When an injury happens, branches that sprout off of neurons and transfer information between brain cells — called axons— are broken and release toxins that damage other neurons and axons. These damaged cells create disruptions in communication between the cells, and thus it is harder for functions of the brain to coordinate.
In the scene above, Sarah’s difficulties with emotional regulation is acknowledged — “…ever since since her accident, she gets real excited, real quick. / She also Cries a lot.” — furthermore, she doesn’t understand why this happens. I take this lack of understanding to have two meanings:
First - Sarah does not fully understand why these emotions pour out in such extreme ways. I believe she has a memory of having a higher emotional control and/or her new emotional extremes have been pointed out by other people, and she does not understand why - now - these emotions overwhelm her so completely.
and Second - she doesn’t understand the science behind what is happening, and that’s understandable - its a rather complex process. Above I have laid out a simplified explanation of how this works, and it still took many hours/days for my personal comprehension. There’s nothing wrong with not understanding how it all works. The brain is an incredibly complex organ that the scientific community is just beginning to understand. I just know that - for years I was told “The frontal lobe damage can create problems with emotional self-control”, but I never did the work to understand Why. Until now, I was okay with that. But Now I recognize that by surviving, I’ve been given an opportunity to do more research and learn what this means - and as part of writing this blog, I’ve finally taken advantage of the opportunity.
Please note, my explanation above is only a summary explanation of how personality is formed and the frontal lobe region operates - the specific intricacies are far more complicated, but the goal of my research and writing was to trim the complexities and to present some of the core processes and basic concepts involved with the frontal lobe region of the brain.
I hope that what I’ve said makes sense, and I hope it helps you understand your brain a little more.
Please leave comments below - chat soon.