Creative Rehabilitation, Part 2: Severe Head Injury

Severe head injury is a family's worse nightmare. Are there ways to make the recovery process less stressful and even fun?

Creative Rehabilitation For Brain Injury. Part 1: Concussion

Often good rehabilitation facilities for brain-injured people are not readily accessible or affordable. Creative programs involving family and friends as the rehabilitation support team can be very effective in these cases, and are in place for the long term, unlike rehab centers. In this first post I focus on concussion.

Would you want your brain transplanted into another body?

The announcement that a human head transplant may be as close as 2017 raises many fascinating issues, quite apart from the technical feasibility of the surgical and medical problems inherent in such a procedure. Who are you—your body or your head (with face attached)? Would a brain transplant be less traumatic for families than a head (with brain inside) transplant?

Traveling Through Time

Our ability to mentally travel back and forward in time gives us our sense of self and enhances our lives and coping abilities in many ways.

Why Our Minds Wander

The default-mode network in the brain is online when your mind is wandering off-task, a habit of the human mind that occurs frequently throughout our waking hours. While attending and focusing is essential for new learning and a good deal of high-quality communication, day-dreaming is also vital, especially for creativity.

Mindfulness Without Therapy

Every one of us is an expert in the arts of Mindfulness, Mind Wandering and Time Travel. In this first of three posts I muse about ways to experience mindfulness without therapy, yoga or relaxation exercises, and whether non-human animals demonstrate mindfulness.

The Neuropsychologist as Sherlock Holmes

Neuropsychological research, especially when a patient has a rare disorder, can have more in common with detective work than with psychology or medicine. My case of the man who misplaced his body shows why.

The CEO Has Left the Building: Control and the Frontal Lobes

The frontal lobes are often called the “executive lobes” as they are truly the CEOs of our brain. Without them we can still read, write, talk, travel, play, and carry on with activities that are well learnt, but give us anything novel to do and we are stumped.

Training for a Career as a Clinical Neuropsychologist

In response to many e-mail queries from students I have put together some general suggestions (relevant to all countries) on how to decide if clinical neuropsychology is really the career for you, and if so what you can do to find out about the courses you should take. Included are web links to professional societies, and books to read.

Yes, The Brain Really Is Damaged When Concussed!

Since the 1970s researchers have been telling us that even a mild head injury can cause physical brain damage, and this is the cause of the symptoms following concussion. New research proves this once again, and will hopefully help to convince those who, after all these decades, still prefer to think that the post-concussional syndrome is all in the mind.

The Power of One

Like human faces, every human brain is unique and thus the study of individuals with brain damage can reveal truths about the mind that group studies cannot reveal. And for individuals, the 'power of one' is a strong mantra to hold to when faced with illness or adversity.

My Brain Is Dead

In Cotard’s Delusion depressed patients believe part of their body is dead. A recently described case differs from previous cases. Graham insisted his brain was dead, in spite of admitting he could think, although he no longer felt any emotion. PET scans of his brain showed severe under-arousal of a brain area associated with conscious awareness.

The Story Of Memory And The Man Who Lost It

For lovers of science, and those who relish a heroic story, this is a book that will stand up to a lifetime of journeys, with every reading providing inspiration and something new to contemplate.

An Hour with Oliver Sacks and Danielle Ofri

Watch Oliver Sacks and Danielle Ofri in conversation

Creative Writing and Your Brain

Creative writers often say that their stories -- at least during those precious peak times of creation -- almost seem to write themselves. Neuroscientists have yet to discover how the creative writing process works, but one thing is certain; writing is one of the best and most pleasurable exercises we can do for our brain.

Are Affairs Really Worth It?

“Vow: A Memoir of Marriage” by Wendy Plump is better than any therapy manual because of its insights on how to preserve a long-term relationship by thinking long and hard before falling helter-skelter into an exciting affair.

Dance So There Is a Tomorrow!

Dancing, especially freestyle dancing, may be the best thing you can do to keep your brain as well as your body fit and healthy into old age. It also makes you happy!

Multimedia Oliver Sacks Festival for New Yorkers

Oliver Sacks, the man who made neuropsychology accessible to all, is to be celebrated in an arty festival with something for everyone in New York in April.

The Sacrosanct Second Amendment

Every heart grieves for the victims and families of the Connecticut shooting, but for many non-US citizens, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is crazier than any psychotic mass murderer.

A Career As a Neuropsychologist: Your Questions Answered

What skills do I need to have to become a neuropsychologist? What courses should I take to improve my chances of getting into a programme? How will I cope with my own emotions when working with clients and patients with brain damage? These and other questions are frequently asked of me by students considering a career in neuropsychology. Here are my answers.

Euthanasia: A Good Death?

The “right to die” debate is always emotional and controversial, and rightly so. Do you dare to think about it in case, one day, it becomes your personal issue?

The Capgras Delusion: You Are Not My Wife!

Brain damage can result a bizarre condition where the patient recognizes people and even places close to him but believes they are imposters. This is caused by the visual recognition of the person or place being disconnected from the feeling of familiarity.

Clearing the Brain of Phantom Pain

Pain is experienced by the brain and not by the injured body part or phantom limb. Cognitive behavior therapy, visualization of movements, and mirrors can relieve pain suffered by chronic pain patients and amputees who experience painful phantom limbs, by re-programming the brain’s malfunctioning pain control center.

Whose Face Is That?

Two percent of the healthy population suffer from some degree of prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Prosopagnosia can also result from brain damage, and these rare cases have given us unique insights into how we store our autobiographical memories.

The Unseen Injury: Post-Concussional Syndrome.

You don’t have to be knocked out cold to get a concussion. If you get a knock on the head, and you still feel tired and grumpy two weeks afterwards, see your doctor! The post-concussional syndrome can be successfully treated with simple behavioral strategies, but the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes.

The Long Goodbye: Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Dementia is a cruel disease, and one of the hardest decisions the family have to make is when (or whether) to place the person who no longer shares their memories into a nursing home.

The Bizarre Disorder of Hemineglect

Patients who have right parietal damage and suffer from left hemineglect will often copy only the right half of a drawing, eat the food off only the right side of their plate and disown their left limbs.

Sibling Love Challenges Hurricane Katrina

Jesmyn Ward's novel, "Salvage the Bones," is a gut-wrenching ride that can teach us much about the power of sibling love.

Elvis Overcomes Memory Loss

Elvis was such a giant figure to young people in the mid-1950's that the global amnesic, Henry Molaison (HM) remembered some muddled information about him even although he could consciously remember little else from eleven years before his brain surgery in 1953. Elvis was first heard on the radio in 1954.

HM, the Man with No Memory

Henry Molaison (HM) gave science the ultimate gift: his memory. Over 55 years he became the most studied medical case in history, and on death his brain was dissected into 2000 slices and digitized as a three-dimensional brain map, preserving his tragically unique brain for posterity.

Pages