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Testing the severity of brain injuries

Research labs in Pennsylvania and around the country are working hard to understand precisely how injuries effect the brain. According to one study, scientists may have uncovered an important aspect of what makes some injuries worse than others.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and Cornell University, is based on the theory that the brain's network of activity plays a tremendous role in the degree in which a brain injury affects an individual. Scientist have long thought the brain operated in distinct, separated regions, and brain injuries that impacted one region would have little influence on other areas. However, new evidence shows the brain's regions operate on connected paths, and one injury to a region of the brain could act on other areas as well.

Scientists examined patterns in the brain's white matter network when exposed to different levels of injury. By studying the brain's eigenmodes, a type of sub-network of pathways which house reverberating activity in sectors of the brain, researchers showed the most influential eigenmodes are found in healthy subjects. By recreating the effect of lesions on network eigenmodes, they determined the primary influencer of the network was the area in which the lesion originated, and lesions at the center of white matter fiber pathways had the greatest impact on network eigenmodes.

Traumatic brain injuries are often linked to contact sports, but they can be caused by other incidents as well, such as a slip and fall or a motor vehicle accident. If it can be determined that the injury resulted from the negligence of another party, then an attorney could be of assistance in seeking compensation on behalf of the victim.

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