How does the brain work

Imagine your best friend or your brother or sister – picture them talking to you. If they stood in front of you right now you would know who they were. You would recognize the sound of their voice and know what they looked like. Of course you would. Right? But what if you couldn’t?

The human brain is vital for creating and storing our memories, experiencing emotions and controlling how our bodies work. Conditions that affect the brain can alter how you interact with the world around you.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are conditions that affect your memory. Suddenly your brain doesn’t remember things that it used to know like the name of your brother or that Suzie has been your best friend since you were five, or that you already bought milk three times today. Living with this condition is confusing, frustrating and upsetting. It ultimately leads to a loss of independence.

You can find out more about Alzheimer’s disease here:

Parkinson’s disease also leads to a loss of independence, this time by affecting how your brain co-ordinates movement. Imagine not being able to write a letter or sign your own name because you can’t control the muscles in your hand and arm and stop them from shaking. People suffering from Parkinson’s suffer from tremors and over time lose the ability to co-ordinate their movement. Eventually, everyday tasks become impossible.

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Other neurological conditions can distort how you experience emotions. People who suffer from bipolar disorder experience severe mood swings from periods of highs (mania) to periods of extreme lows (depression). Celebrities such as Stephen FryCatherine Zeta-Jonesand Kerry Katona have spoken openly about their difficulties in living with this condition.

Thankfully once diagnosed a lot can be done to help people living with neurological conditions. If you are interested in a career in helping care for or develop treatments for these kind of conditions, you might want to become:

• A behavioural neuroscientist or a psychiatrist – helping to diagnose the neurological condition and work out the best treatment plan
• A mental health nurse – providing care and support for the patient
• A neuropharmocologist – researching how different drugs interact with the nervous system to determine the most effective treatment options
• A molecular biologist – understanding what the causes the disease and developing new treatments
• A psychotherapist – helping to treat patients for a wide range of mental and physical difficulties
• A psychologist – using psychological theory and practice to solve problems or bring about improvements for patients
• A physiological scientist – using specialised equipment to monitor treatment and help to diagnose disease
• A neurophysiology technician – setting up and operating the electronic equipment which records the electrical activity of the brain and nervous system
• A neurosurgeon – diagnosing and treating the pathological processes affecting the nervous system, which may include the rehabilitation of patients with disorders affecting the brain