Because the brain in the central hub for the all of the body’s functions, understanding how this organ works can be helpful in terms of understanding Traumatic Brain Injury.
There are six components inside of the brain; the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, temporal lobe, cerebellum and the brain stem. Read below to understand the functions of each part of the brain, the roles they play in the body’s overall health, and observed problems in behavior or well being if that particular part of the brain is injured.
The frontal lobe links and integrates all components of behavior at the highest level. Emotion and social adjustment and impulse control are also localized here. Injury to parts of the frontal lobe may cause an inability to move part of the body or the whole side of the body. Speech may become halting, disorganized or be stopped except for single explosive words. Personality may change. Social rules of behavior may be disregarded. The executive functions, planning, abstract reasoning, impulse control, sustained attention and insight are all located here. The frontal lobe is highly susceptible to injury.
- Problem solving
- Inhibition of behavior
- Motor planning
- Awareness of abilities/limitations
- Mental flexibility
- Speaking (expressive language)
- Emotion (i.e., depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).
The parietal lobe is largely responsible for construction ability and language. Injury to the front parts of this lobe may cause someone to lose sensation on parts of the body. With an injury in this area, one may become disoriented. Recall of long term memories may be mixed up in time or sequencing. They may become easily lost or confuse left and right. They may have difficulty recognizing or naming what they see. Injury may also produce disorders in the ability to read, write or perform math calculations. This area also includes conscious sensation and voluntary motion.
- Sense of touch
- Differentiation: size, shape, color
- Spatial perception
- Visual perception
- Academic skills (reading)
- Sensation (i.e., touch, taste, and smell)
Injury to this area usually results in “blindness” to part or all of the visual field. Usually people experience “holes” or “blind spots” in what they see. There may be problems picking things out of space or they may misperceive pictures or objects. Recognition of colors may also be disturbed.
- Reading (perception and recognition of printed words)
- Depth perception
- Color perception
- Difficulty tracking moving objects
- Partial or total blindness
The temporal lobe perceives and recognizes verbal material. It is among the most frequently injured parts of the brain during head injury. A person may have difficulty screening out distractions. Injury to the upper temporal area can cause someone to misunderstand what is said. They may make sounds like words but which are not recognizable as words at all. They may also misunderstand body language. Emotional changes such as unexplained panic or unexpected tearfulness may be noted. Left temporal area includes production of speech, naming and verbal memory. The right temporal area includes musical abilities, foreign languages, visual memory, and comprehension of the environment.
- Understanding language (receptive language)
- Organization and sequencing
- Musical awareness
- Thinking (i.e., memory and reasoning)
- Language (i.e., communication, expression, and understanding)
Obtaining a general understanding of the brain and its functions is important to understanding the rehabilitation process. It is very important, however, to understand that the rehabilitation professional is concerned with the whole person. The identification of individual problems gives the rehabilitation team areas in which to focus treatment plans, all of these plans are designed to work toward the rehabilitation of the whole person. Each problem area affects other areas and many times resolving one problem has a major impact on other problems. For example, reestablishing postural balance and eliminating dizziness greatly enhances concentration and attention which allows for improved cognition and problem solving.
- Coordination of voluntary movement
- Balance and equilibrium
- Some memory for reflex motor acts
- Loss of ability to coordinate fine movements
- Loss of ability to walk
- Inability to reach out and grab objects
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Slurred speech (scanning speech)
- Inability to make rapid movements
The brain stem plays a vital role in basic attention, arousal, and consciousness. All information to and from our body passes through the brain stem on the way to or from our brain. Like the frontal and temporal lobes, the brain stem is located in an area near bony protrusions making it vulnerable to damage during trauma.
- Heart Rate
- Reflexes to seeing and hearing (startling response)
- Controls sweating, blood pressure, digestion, temperature (autonomic nervous system)
- Affects level of alertness
- Ability to sleep
- Sense of balance (vestibular function)
- Decreased vital capacity in breathing, important for speech
- Swallowing food and water (dysphasia)
- Difficulty with organization/perception of the environment
- Problems with balance and movement
- Dizziness and nausea (vertigo)
- Sleeping difficulties (insomnia, sleep apnea)
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following :
- understand the logical connections between ideas
- identify, construct and evaluate arguments
- detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
- solve problems systematically
- identify the relevance and importance of ideas
- reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values
Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself.
Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people. Although critical thinking skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks. Critical thinking can help us acquire knowledge, improve our theories, and strengthen arguments. We can use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve social institutions.
Some people believe that critical thinking hinders creativity because it requires following the rules of logic and rationality, but creativity might require breaking rules. This is a misconception. Critical thinking is quite compatible with thinking "out-of-the-box", challenging consensus and pursuing less popular approaches. If anything, critical thinking is an essential part of creativity because we need critical thinking to evaluate and improve our creative ideas.
§1. The importance of critical thinking
Critical thinking is a domain-general thinking skill. The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do. If you work in education, research, finance, management or the legal profession, then critical thinking is obviously important. But critical thinking skills are not restricted to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career.
Critical thinking is very important in the new knowledge economy. The global knowledge economy is driven by information and technology. One has to be able to deal with changes quickly and effectively. The new economy places increasing demands on flexible intellectual skills, and the ability to analyse information and integrate diverse sources of knowledge in solving problems. Good critical thinking promotes such thinking skills, and is very important in the fast-changing workplace.
Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas. In learning how to analyse the logical structure of texts, critical thinking also improves comprehension abilities.
Critical thinking promotes creativity. To come up with a creative solution to a problem involves not just having new ideas. It must also be the case that the new ideas being generated are useful and relevant to the task at hand. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in evaluating new ideas, selecting the best ones and modifying them if necessary
Critical thinking is crucial for self-reflection. In order to live a meaningful life and to structure our lives accordingly, we need to justify and reflect on our values and decisions. Critical thinking provides the tools for this process of self-evaluation.
Good critical thinking is the foundation of science and democracy. Science requires the critical use of reason in experimentation and theory confirmation. The proper functioning of a liberal democracy requires citizens who can think critically about social issues to inform their judgments about proper governance and to overcome biases and prejudice.
§2. The future of critical thinking
In January 2016, the World Economic Forum issued a report "The Future of Jobs". It says:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which includes developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology, will cause widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years, with enormous change predicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new landscape.
The top three skills that supposed to be most relevant are thinking skills related to critical thinking, creativity, and their practical application. These are the cognitive skills that our website focuses on.
§3. For teachers
- The ideas on this page were discussed in a blog post on edutopia. The author uses the critical thinking framework here to apply to K-12 education. Very relevant to school teachers!