Thursday, January 6, 2011

How petit mal epilepsy can affect child’s school performance

What is petit mal epilepsy?

Petit mal epilepsy or absence seizures are characterized by sudden loss of consciousness without losing muscle tone, absence of tonic - clonic movements or absence of any after effects of seizures. Child usually does not remember the episode. However it can be associated with abnormal blinking of eyelids, abnormal facial movements, lip smacking and chewing.

image via Wikipedia

How petit mal seizures can affect school performance?

Frequent episodes of petit mal seizures can cause interruptions of the stream of thought, which can cause difficulty in grasping new concepts and problems in learning. In addition, episodes of petit mal epilepsy may be interpreted by teachers as misbehavior or having lack of class room discipline. This can create a difficult environment for the child to learn, which will ultimate leads to poor school performance.


This problem can be a cause for child’s poor performance in the school. It can be treated with various drugs. So it is important to identify petit mal seizure early and offer early treatment before it can ruin child’s life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Functions of Prefrontal cortex

Vectorized recreation of Image:Gray726-Brodman...
Image via Wikipedia
Human prefrontal cortex is one of the least understood areas of the brain. Due to lack of understanding of the functions of prefrontal cortex, early surgeons performed one of the disastrous procedure called prefrontal leucotomy or prefrontal lobectomy.

These procedures were performed in the hope of calming down disturbed patients. However now we know that Prefrontal cortex makes the difference between Human and an ape.

Prefrontal cortex is situated in front (Anteriority) to the premotor area of the brain.Basically prefrontal cortex is situated just behind the forehead (see photo of the brain). 

What are the functions of prefrontal area?

Currently understood functions of prefrontal cortex are

1. Initiation and maintaining goal directed behavior. Especially for longer term goals.
2. Balancing our emotions, feelings with the social standards. So we do not behave like animals
3. Considering the circumstances and potential consequences of behavior when someone is planning an action.
4. Maintaining cognitive flexibility in problem solving.
5. Achieving optimal levels of arousal (drive) and sustaining/directing attention.
Addition to these function there could be many unidentified functions of this misterious part of the human brain.

What are connections inbetween prefrontal cortex and other brain areas

1. Posterior cotex (responsible for vision)
2. Temporal lobes (responsible for hearing)
3. Limbic and paralimbic structures (responsible for identification of threats and emotional responses)
4. Olfactory system (area responsible for smell)
5. Thalamus (main sensory relay station of the brain)

Clinical neuroanatomy, a neurobehavioural approach

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