The Unstoppable Violinist

Dagmar Turner suffered grade two glioma (a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord) and underwent an operation at King’s College Hospital in London to remove it. The amusing fact is, as the surgery was ongoing, the doctors, through consultation, agreed to wake her up and ensured she played her violin amid the surgery. In a statement, the hospital said the surgery was done with Turner awake to ensure areas of the patient’s brain responsible for delicate hand movement and coordination weren’t damaged. Her skull was first opened with her being under anesthesia after which she was woken up and asked to play as the tumor was excavated with expertise. A statement from the hospital stated that the glioma was located ‘in the frontal lobe of her brain, close to an area that controls the fine movement of her left hand which she uses to play.’

Professor Keyoumars Ashkan who led the operating team stated, ‘We knew how important the violin is to Dagmar so it was vital that we preserved function in the delicate areas of her brain that allowed her to play. We managed to remove over 90 percent of the tumor, including all the areas suspicious of aggressive activity while retaining full function in her left hand.’

Dagmar Turner who plays violin in the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra was well enough to return home three days after the procedure and she couldn’t be more grateful to the team of doctors.

The brain, a superpower of the human existence could never cease to be amusing. In every instance, the brain takes in much more information than it can process in an instant. During this process, the brain keeps making predictions which it tests by comparing incoming data against stored information. All this is done in our oblivion. In the instance of sounds, words and meanings, the brain is usually alert to decipher what people are saying before they even do. Imaging studies have previously shown that when humans expect a sound abstract or image to appear, it generates an anticipatory signal in the sensory cortices. This phenomenon provides an easier understanding of every new aspect.

Say you read a chapter of the book Gifted Hands book by renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson and then two weeks after your read, you come across audio of the same chapter, only that it is so degraded and nearly unintelligible. Amusingly, the words will sound clearer. This is a prodigy where the sensory parts of the brain would be comparing the speech you are hearing to the words you read, hence the clarity as a result of brainwork prediction.

A biological clock is existent. You may ask how it works. The brain, besides the wall clock, has its track of time. Four years ago, a team at the University of Lubeck in Germany put 15 volunteers to bed at midnight and told 10 of them they would wake them up at 9 a.m. the following day. One and a half hours before 9 a.m., they experienced a measurable rise in the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. The other 5 weren’t told anything but were unexpectedly woken up 6 a.m. and had no such spike. The researchers then concluded that the unconscious mind can not only keep track of time while we sleep but can also set a biological alarm to jumpstart the waking process.

Of the capabilities of the mind, the half has never been told. This is why the absolute health of the brains is called for by all people who profess to promote good health.

I recently sadly learned one of my good friends was suffering from schizophrenia. This is a disorder that interferes with the normalcy of a person’s ability to think, feel and behave clearly. As if the disorder is not sad enough, its exact cause isn’t yet known. Pointers to its cause, however, revolve around a combination of genetic predisposing factors and altered brain chemistry. An affected individual experiences behavioral changes such as social isolation or worse still aggression and hostility. The cognitive ability is usually tampered with where the person may experience thought disorder and delusions. Their mood is always of general discontent. One needs a high level of patience and tolerance with such persons.

Related to this mental illness include psychosis (disconnection from reality), bipolar (depressive lows or manic highs), obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism (inability to communicate and interact), antisocial personality disorder, clinical depression, and antisocial personality disorder. There are but a handful of the mental illnesses and disorders that there are. It is of utmost importance to comprehend that some of these disorders are self-imposed whereas others are unfortunately beyond control.

The conscious part of the brain dictates that all necessary measures that are existent geared towards preventable mental disorders ought to be taken. The United States was at one time faced with the challenge of concussions at the National Football League. Concussions not only occur in football but also during falls of any kind. In cars, for instance, the simple half a minute of buckling up could go a long way in preventing it. During biking, skating, horse riding, and any contact sports, it is imperative to be in a helmet.

For the ones that are pre-disposed to us genetically, we could learn how to live with them.

A variety of propositions have been put forth in the past to ensure mental health is upheld. Just to accentuate, the brain needs as delicate care just as it is. Several techniques could be applied to boost brain power and uphold its proper functionality as well as intelligence.

Physical exercises improve brain power by forming new brain cells as well as ensure the posterity of existing neurons. Exercise helps increase the size of the hippocampus (brain area associated with memory and learning). Never underestimate the fundamental basics simple runs, walks, rope skipping, pushups, sit-ups and yoga.

Lifelong learning effectively increases brainpower. Anything novel to the comprehensive chambers of the brain enhances memory and aid in the formation of new brain cells. Let not a day pass by without you equipping your brain with any new aspect. Even if it is learning how to buy and own a giraffe.

Music training improves the Left Temporal Lobe (the region in the brain involved in verbal memory). These musicians you see, all stand a better chance at verbal memory than any of other humans with non-musical ability. Attend that session of music training in church or sing along at the gym or better yet train yourself in the shower.

There exist special brain training programs called mnemonics which go a long way to help the mind encode and recall important information. The techniques involved in mnemonic training are such one where they enable you to remember information that is difficult to recall. Talk of quantum approaches and thermodynamics, atoms and energy levels, calculus’ differential equations or worse still pronunciation and diphthongs in English. Why not walk into such classrooms and learn mnemonics.

Need I mention of ensuring that part of your daily diet consists of foods that have been scientifically proven to boost brain ability? Talk of fish wherein lies omega 3, part of the constituent of the 8% of the brain made up of fatty acids and omega 3. Blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, nuts, oranges, and eggs should slide every once in a while in your diets.

Lest the brain gets tired, we shall halt it at that. Just ensure your brain has regular mental stimulation and keep giving it new experiences. You may live to be Nikola Tesla, Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Plato or Albert Einstein of our time.

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