© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009
Margaritis Z. PimenidisThe Neurobiology of Orthodontics10.1007/978-3-642-00396-7_9
9. Clinical Brain Function
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Margaritis Z. Pimenidis
The purpose of this chapter is to explain how the brain works, what happens when things go wrong, and how to optimize brain function. The chapter describes briefly the five brain systems that are most intimately involved with our behavior and make up much of what is uniquely human, as follows:
The limbic system lies at the center of the brain. It is the bonding and emotional mood control center. These fall very centrally into our concept of the psyche because they mediate the central emotional orientations that govern survival and our social interaction with others, including the capacity for love, hate, jealousy, etc. The limbic system being connected to others is essential to behavior, yet when this part of the brain is not healthy, people struggle with moodiness and negativity. Spending time with positively thinking people is essential to deep limbic health.
The prefrontal cortex at the front tip of the brain is the conscious supervisor, the part of the brain that helps to stay focused, make plans, controlling impulses, and making good (or bad) decisions.
The cingulate gyrus system is the part of the brain that allows the shifting of attention from thought to thought and between behaviors.
The system of temporal lobes underneath the temporal bones is involved with memory, understanding language, facial recognition, and temper control. Optimizing the function of this part of the brain helps us to experience inner peace.
The system of basal ganglia are large structures deep in the brain that surround the deep limbic system, controlling the body’s idle speed. When this part of the brain works too hard (overactive), anxiety, panic, fearfulness, and conflict avoidance are often the result. Many of us may be vulnerable to anxiety and nervousness which may affect our relationships with patients. When the basal ganglia are underactive, people often struggle with concentration and fine motor control problems.
It is important to note that the brain systems are interconnected. When one system is affected, others are likely to be affected as well. Also, some brain researchers would separate the brain systems differently. For example, placing the cingulate system and deep temporal lobes within the limbic system. It is also interesting to note that many behavioral disorders formerly considered psychological actually have a biological basis documented with functional brain imaging .
9.2 Optimizing the Conscious Mind: The Prefrontal Cortex
Because the prefrontal cortex seeks stimulation for attention and awareness (arousal) many people unconsciously seek conflict as a way to stimulate their own prefrontal cortex. Without knowing (unconsciously) they try to upset you. They try to get you yell. They try to make you angry. It is important to have a calm demeanor in order to have a healthy prefrontal cortex function. Such people should do whatever they can not to yell or become emotionally intense. When they feel as if they are going to blow, they should take a deep breath or a break until they can get themselves under control. Those in whom the prefrontal cortex is not working hard enough, do not have access to good internal supervision, and they may say or do things impulsively. Thus, we should always think positive, and have healthy thoughts. Often people with prefrontal cortex problems have low self esteem and need encouragement and positive input from those they love. Disorganization is often a hallmark of prefrontal cortex dysfunction. Rather than complain about the disorganization, it is generally much more effective to help your partner become more organized .