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063 Frontal lobe and executive function

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Jurmaine Health Podcasts / Frontal lobe and executive function

063 Frontal lobe and executive function

By Jurmaine Health

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Often we are asked, what happens if one suffers from brain injury?

On this episode, find out what our brain executive functions are, which part of the brain is associated to performing executive functions, what its effects are if it is damaged as there can be behavioral consequences.

Even if one has brain injury, one can still function – find out the tips to build healthy routine.

At Jurmaine Health, our team of neuropsychologists can help with assessment and also provide you with recommendations. Contact us today to find out more.

KIMBERLEY [00:36]

So executive functions the way I like to describe it is CEO of a company. So CEO is a top person in a company, they organize everything in the company, they oversee everything. So they do lots of different tasks involving such short things as planning, organizing, being able to do multiple things at once. So they might have different projects that they’re working on being able to problem solve, initiate new projects. So there’s a lot of different organizing and skills that the CEO is doing in order to organize the rest of the brain and the rest of the team. So that’s kind of how I think of executive functions. Everyone might have a different way of explaining it.

Kimberley [02:16]

The main part that is associated is the frontal lobe. So you’ve probably heard frontal lobe and then often executive functions will follow. So that’s the main region of the brain. But the brain, you know, is a whole thing and that obviously uses different parts of the brain to do those functions. But the main part is that frontal lobe

EVELYN [01:30]

No, I think I would agree with you. I tend to talk about executive functions as being those higher level cognitive functions. So as you’ve said, planning, organizing, initiating, being able to, I guess, employ the right responses in social situations. But it’s also involved in for instance, a higher level attention. So being able to switch your attention between tasks is one of those higher level congnitive functions that can be brought under the umbrella executive function.

EVELYN [02:56]

So you have difficulties for instance, with initiating, planning, organizing, carrying out those activities in a kind of like a cohesive step by step fashion, they might be very rigid in their thought processes for problem solving is another one. People can also with frontal lobe dysfunction as well with executive dysfunction might come across as being quite impulsive disinhibited. And I think importantly, they might not be aware or they be, they will be unaware of inappropriate behaviors, for instance, but they also have difficulties perhaps in social situations, difficulties with memory because that retrieval of information comes they say from the frontal lobes so they might be able to encode the information but retrieving that information after a period of times is tricky for them.

Kimberley Meates is a Clinical Neuropsychology Registrar at Jurmaine Health who has also worked as Therapy Assistant with Victoria Community Living.​

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberley-meates-622a76186/?originalSubdomain=au

AND

Evelyn Chen is a clinical neuropsychology registrar. She has clinical and research experience in aged care, public and private health care settings. With a Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology from The University of Melbourne (2017) and currently undertaking her PhD candidature at the same university, she specialises in traumatic brain injury assessments/management, as well as forensic and parenting capacity assessments. For her PhD, Evelyn is investigating the validity and reliability of tracking cognitive recovery in patients following a mild traumatic brain injury using smartphones.

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Episode 063: Frontal lobe and executive function

Podcast brought to you by Jurmaine Health

[00:02]

Welcome to Jurmaine Health podcast where the center for brain and body improvement and our team that believes that everyone should live their best life in their best body and with their best brain.

ARROW [00:15]

Welcome back to Jurmaine Health podcast. Today you have myself Arrow. I'm here with Evelyn.

EVELYN [00:22]

Hello

and Kimberley

KIMBERLEY [00:24]

Hi.

ARROW [00:15]

And today you're going to educate me a little bit about frontal lobes and executive function because I have no idea what any of this means. So tell me what are executive functions.

KIMBERLEY [00:36]

So executive functions the way I like to describe it is CEO of a company. So CEO is a top person in a company, they organize everything in the company, they oversee everything. So they do lots of different tasks involving such short things as planning, organizing, being able to do multiple things at once. So they might have different projects that they're working on being able to problem solve, initiate new projects. So there's a lot of different organizing and skills that the CEO is doing in order to organize the rest of the brain and the rest of the team. So that's kind of how I think of executive functions. Evelyn might have a different way of explaining it.

EVELYN [01:30]

No, I think I would agree with you. I tend to talk about executive functions as being those higher level cognitive functions. So as you've said, planning, organizing, initiating, being able to, I guess, employ the right responses in social situations. But it's also involved in for instance, a higher level attention. So being able to switch your attention between tasks is one of those higher level cognitive functions that can be brought under the umbrella executive function.

EVELYN [02:04]

So I agree with you, Yeah.

ARROW [02:06]

All right. So that's basically the boss of the brain.

How the brain works then. Okay

So what part of the brain is associated with executive function?

KIMBERLEY [02:16]

The main part that is associated is the frontal lobe. So you've probably heard frontal lobe and then often executive functions will follow. So that's the main region of the brain. But the brain, you know, is a whole thing and that obviously uses different parts of the brain to do those functions. But the main part is that frontal lobe

ARROW [02:47]

Alright, so what can happen when you sort of have some damage to the frontal lobe or some dysfunction, I guess.

EVELYN [02:56]

So you have difficulties for instance, with initiating, planning, organizing, carrying out those activities in a kind of like a cohesive step by step fashion, they might be very rigid in their thought processes, poor problem solving is another one. People can also with frontal lobe dysfunction as well with executive dysfunction might come across as being quite impulsive, disinhibited. And I think importantly, they might not be aware or they be, they will be unaware of inappropriate behaviors, for instance, but they also have difficulties perhaps in social situations, difficulties with memory because that retrieval of information comes they say from the frontal lobes so they might be able to encode the information but retrieving that information after a period of times is tricky for them.

KIMBERLEY [03:58]

Yes. So a lot of those functions, the boss functions break down. You can also see that in behavior as well. So if someone's not able to stop themselves from doing something that pops into their head, so you know, yeah, sometimes we have thoughts, they pop into our head, and we decide, oh, no, I won�t act on that, or I won�t say that because that's inappropriate or be rude. But in someone who's had a brain injury, they can blurt it out, they can, you know, start swearing, start hitting things, because they don't have that ability to sort of stop and think about what they're doing. So there can be a lot of be behavioral consequences of executive dysfunction. And that can be seen in a lot of different ways. So, as well as you know, not being able to initiate activities, so they might sit on the couch all day, not being able to work out what should I do next. It's a lot of those boss sort of functions that can come out in that everyday behavior. Yeah.

ARROW [05:02]

So I guess that sort of leads into what sort of impact that can have on your day to day life on how you function in our world.

EVELYN [05:13]

I think lots and lots of things. So one of the key things I guess is if you have executive dysfunction and one of the things that impacted upon it is your initiation. So like Kimberly said, a person might sit there in front of the TV or just sit down on the couch and look out of the window all day and they lose all motivation for even the simplest things like eating, you know, going making, getting themselves dressed. And I guess, impact on relationships is as a key another key thing as well because people tend to be become more impulsive, they might not know how to act in social situations. They act more impulsive disinhibited, so they might say the wrong thing. And that could get them into trouble. And their friends and family don't realize that this is not something that they are doing intentionally. But because they are unaware of their behaviors, then that could be problematic.

ARROW [06:17]

Yeah, I can say that that could either isolate or alienate people from... Like he might say something really hurtful. Yeah. And if this is how you're going to speak to me, I don't particularly want to hang out with you. Yeah. So what are some general strategies or what can people do to sort of help deal with living with executive dysfunction?

EVELYN [06:44]

Probably one of the important things I think, would be to educate the individual who has the executive dysfunction. I think that's just an increase is, the insight into their behaviors, but also to educate the family and friends around them as well to help them realize that, look, it's not like this person is doing it intentionally. It's because he is unaware or she is unaware of their actions and the behaviors and what they've said. I think that's one of the things that we can do initially. And Kimberley, I think you have lots of input with this as well.

KIMBERLEY [07:25]

Yes, I think the key strategy to use when someone does have executive dysfunction is structure. So as much as possible, provide as much structure as you can. As you can imagine, if you wake up in the morning, and you have problems, initiating tasks, first thing like just getting out of bed, maybe you don't have the ability to initiate that task. So it makes the rest of the day very difficult. If you've got some structure if you know okay, I wake up at this time, and I get up I go to brush my teeth at what, probably eat first that would be helpful eat first and then you brush your teeth. So if you've got a structure to your day, then you know what to do. And it becomes a routine. As you probably know, we don't even think about what we're gonna do. We don't have to consciously wake up and say, All right now I'm going to go have breakfast. So we just do it automatically. So the more that you can put structure into a day and do a routine every single day the same way, then you build up that habit that we naturally do anyway, that sometimes people with brain injury, are unable to do that. So structure, that's definitely my top tip.

ARROW [08:46]

Yeah, doing a quick bit of reading before there's a lot of them seem to be write a list, like a board somewhere that's like easy to see and that they can look at and go. Oh, okay, so this is my schedule. This is what how it should work. So that's sort of one, I guess, way of building that structure, at least in the beginning of setting things into motion.

KIMBERLEY [09:11]

Yeah, think of it like an external boss. So you know, your internal boss, is gone on holidays. You need an external or someone out there who's going to tell you, okay, we're going to do this, this this, we're going to do it in this order in this way. Yeah, I think that can be helpful.

ARROW [09:27]

So if someone was concerned that maybe they had some issues with executive function, what should they be doing? What's their next step, I guess, for figuring out how to get some order back in their life.

EVELYN [09:45]

Medical neuro psychology assessment might be useful in this respect. So we obviously do cognitive

assessments, but I think what comes into play as well during the assessment is we do a lot of clinical interviewing and also speak to, with obviously the consent of the client and the patient, people around them who can perhaps give us some insight into what else is happening in their lives what has changed, perhaps quite suddenly after a particular injury, for instance, that has affected their frontal lobes. So a neuropsychological assessment will be able to try and kind of uncover that and provide recommendations and strategies as well.

ARROW [10:31]

Okay. Alright. Well, I guess yeah, that's a big part of what you guys do you here, and a part of which falls under the umbrella. Yeah, so there we go. Any final thoughts before we wrap up for this little pop session?

EVELYN [10:47]

Well not really. Look after your frontal lobes.

ARROW [10:51]

Alright guys. Well, thanks so much for having a chat with me. That was very informative.

And everyone knows where to find us on our website and social media on Instagram, check our website if you did want more information, you can always hit us up and we'd be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Thanks so much guys.

Kimberley & Evelyn [11:10]

Thank you.

[11:15]

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed our podcast, feel free to connect with us on Instagram at jurmainehealthbody all one word we always welcome feedback and ideas too. And we're happy to answer any questions just reach out to us at our website, www.jurmainehealth.com.au. Listen in weekly for the most relevant information on how to live your best life with your best brain and body.

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2020-06-23T12:34:35+00:00