Brain Waves: UAB Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Newsletter Volume 13 | Number 1

VOL 13 | NUM 1 2015 BrainWaves UAB Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Headline News The University of Alabama at Birmingham Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (UAB-TBIMS) provides Brain Waves twice annually as an informational resource for people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). UAB-TBIMS Program Director: Thomas Novack, PhD Editor: Phil Klebine, MA 529 Spain Rehabilitation Center 1717 6th Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35233-7330 Phone: 205-934-3283 TDD: 205-934-4642 Fax: 205-975-4691 WWW.UAB.EDU/TBI [email protected] /UABTBIMS /UABTBIMS /UABTBIMS Brain Waves is funded by grant #H133A120096 from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the granting agency. ©2015 University of Alabama Board of Trustees. The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides equal opportunity in education and employment. A recent Time article answers a very relevant question, “Are My Devices Messing with My Brain?”. The short answer is “yes!” According to researchers, our brains are hardwired to respond to sights or sounds it might be a signal for danger. The noises from smartphones and tablets tap into that part of your brain. Also, there is almost nothing more compelling than when someone in our social network contacts us through something like a text message, Twitter or Facebook post, or email. “Combine that sudden beep with the implicit promise of new social info, and you have a near-perfect, un-ignorable stimulus that will pull your focus away from whatever task your brain is working on,” says one researcher. The article also details other areas of concern. People think they can quickly check a text or other message and pick up a task where they left off, but it is not possible. People think they can multi-task, but they cannot. Plus, there is also evidence that suggests people who spend a lot of time trying to juggle lots of different websites, apps, programs or other digital stimuli tend to have less grey matter in a part of their brain involved with thought and emotion control. So what does all this mean? Read the full article In 2013, President Obama launched the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative to advance neuroscience and develop therapies for brain disorders. The first study results from the BRAIN Initiative have been published. The researchers were able to manipulate a lab animal’s brain circuitry accurately enough to turn behaviors on and off. The results are intended to help neuroscientists perfect a technique for identifying brain wiring underlying any behavior, and control that behavior by activating and deactivating neurons. This results reflect a shift from linking psychiatric or neurological disorders to “chemical imbalances” in the brain to linking such illnesses to miswiring and misfiring in neuronal circuits. If scientists are able to better understand brain wiring, it may lead to new therapies. The research was published in journal, Neuron. Positive news continues as Americans with and without disabilities are participating in the labor force and finding jobs, according to National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), issued by Kessler Foundation and University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. The employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities increased from 25.3 percent in April 2014 to 27.0 percent in April 2015 (up 6.7 percent; 1.7 percentage points). For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio increased slightly from 71.4 percent in April 2014 to 72.7 percent in April 2015 (up 1.1 percent; 0.8 percentage points). The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100). In comparison to April 2014, 337,000 more Americans with disabilities are in the workforce. Go to website