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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ideas about the brain in a social context

I'm told a recent EEG came back "abnormal" with "diffuse slowing." Now I have to wait a month for my next appointment with the neurologist to find out what that means... I figure "diffuse" means it isn't just a localized area that is slow. Somehow it makes me feel better to know the problem isn't just in my head.... (Let the reader catch the tongue-in-cheek double-meaning.)

I believe the literal meaning of diffused slowing is that reactions to stimuli are slower than previously recorded. It is the implications of diffused slowing that require a neurologist's expertise to interpret.

For years it has been my opinion that the medical profession oversimplifies their interpretations of brain activity, because they only measure activity. They don't measure the brain's activity in terms of efficiency. I think quite possibly less can be more where brain activity is concerned: but not always, which means the process is too complex for meaningful assessment by purely physical means.

(iStockphoto LP, 2010)
I also suspect that synapses (the electro-chemical connections between nerves that the brain creates as it forms associations between experiences and successful responses) extend into other dimensions that we cannot directly observe (not that we won't eventually learn how to indirectly observe them). Further, I believe any transfer of information between cells, including cells and cell clusters that don't specialize in information processing, is functionally equivalent to the transfer of information that occurs within neural synapses. Consequently, I think whole-body health and memberships in a variety of communities with other people are just as essential to mental health as brain function.

I believe I can function as a "whole" person even without ideal brain health if I make use of my external connections with other people and with external sources of information. The only limitation I see with this model is the limitation of trust and trust-worthiness within these symbiotic connections (or social synapses, as I like to call them). I believe I still have a lot of good I can contribute to others. I just need to figure out how to make and maintain those appropriate co-beneficial connections: an economy of thought, if you will allow the analogy.

All of these speculations are without substantial research to support or refute them. If any readers are familiar with research that would relate to my speculations, please let me know by commenting here, or send an email if you prefer. (My "About" section provides a means to send a private email.)

See Also: Social networks matter: Friends increase the size of your brain.


iStockphoto LP. (Producer). (2010). Social network brain. [Web Drawing]. Retrieved from  

Johnson, E. M. (2011). Social networks matter: Friends increase the size of your brain.
          Scientific American, 2011(11.17), Retrieved from


  1. Since I wrote this post, I have gotten two professional opinions of the implication of increased slowness. Both professionals agree it constitutes physical evidence that the brain injury caused real damage (as opposed to strictly psychological damage). Neither professional believes this evidence should be a cause for discouragement, since we already knew I had permanent damage. This new evidence does NOT mean I am any less likely to develop new skills to compensate for what has been lost.

  2. I've also underwent ECG before, I have skull problems until now and I am suffering from seizure attacks when I was in 5th grade. Seriously, I never thought that my life span will be even longer than what we are expecting. Thankful and hopeful though that I can still spend more years together with my family.
    personal injury law patient.

  3. Kim, Thank you for your comment. I am interested in hearing about your experience with a personal injury attorney. I have gotten all kinds of conflicting advice, and my own experience attempting to navigate the system without professional assistance has been frustrating, not because I don't understand the law, but because I don't have the focusing skills to keep up with the rigorous day-to-day communication that must happen when pursuing any legal matter.


I am developing a prototype resources website at Please review my plans and make suggestions.

I welcome comments that can help make this site more helpful to those experiencing similar difficulties, or for those friends, family, and professionals who take care of bicycle injury / brain trauma.victims.

Since I want this site to be helpful to victims, I reserve the right to edit comments if they seem to conflict with that goal.

Helpful comments would include corrections of false information, references to local services that relate to my posts, or comments that help me to keep spelling, grammar, and word-choices appropriate and correct. As a brain injury victim, I depend on others to insure accuracy and to spot the kinds of errors that I may not recognize. Please feel welcome to contribute your expertise to make this site effective!