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Friday, March 7, 2014

Dr. Erin Bigler and Neuroscience

Last night I went to the Brain Injury Group at Brigham Young University because Dr. Erin D. Bigler was presenting! Dr. Bigler is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at BYU, and he's pretty much an expert in his field. In fact, more than one BYU Phd Psychology student has told me that he was the reason they selected BYU for their Phd program.

I decided to summarize some of his points on my blog:

I don't think he really had anything specific planned for his presentation because he just said, "Usually when I speak, there are a lot of questions at the end, so I decided to turn things around and start with the questions. What do you guys want to know?"

He preceded to let us know he's been a professor for 40 years and has hundreds of slides, so he probably has a slide for anything we ask . . . and then opened it up for whatever. It was great, and so helpful!

Here are the points I took to heart:

"There's nothing we experience that isn't mediated by the brain."
"The brain is always changing and adapting (even in an uninjured state)."

The reason that processing speed is slower after brain injury is because things have to be rerouted (and bypass the injured parts). He gave a great analogy: back when he was an undergrad at BYU, there was no I-15 (the freeway that connects Provo to Salt Lake City). If you wanted to travel from Southern UT to SLC, you had to take back roads and go through several tiny towns. It took forever. That analogy made complete sense to me.

He said the hippocampus (which plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory) is the most vascular part of the brain- meaning it needs blood flow. Everything that's good for the heart is also good for the brain, he said. That means proper exercise, diet, sleep, and a low-stress lifestyle are important to help TBI Survivors stay healthy and sane (the second half of that sentence are my words, but that is pretty much what he said).

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