Need for Neuropsychology Research of Concussion:
A Call for Research
Dr. Narinder Kapur of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southampton, makes this call for need for neuropsychology research of concussion at page 412 of Injured Brains of Medical Minds:
A number of articles in this book allude to difficulties that brain damaged patients have in performing more than one task at a time. We take it for granted that we can perform an over-learned skill, such as walking, and at the same time another overlearned skill, such as listening to a conversation. For an individual with a compromised brain, this automaticity of dual-task performance cannot be taken for granted. Difficulties become all the more evident when one of the skills is not as overlearned as walking/listening, where there are significant information demands within one or more of the skills (e.g. listening to a conversation involving several people discussing a complex topic), or where there may be additional tasks or background distractions.
It would seem that, in some neurological conditions, activities that were previously ‘automatic’ have now come under ‘conscious cortical control’. perhaps regulated by frontal lobe mechanisms. It is possible that this is equivalent to the active use of a ‘working memory system’, and that in such patients having to perform another activity at the same time mimics dual-task performance in an experimental setting. Another explanation is to ignore the possible involvement of a ‘supervisory’ or ‘executive’ system, and instead to view the brain as a ‘mass action’ system, whereby a cognitive or motor activity uses up a general reserve of brain capacity, in addition to particular demands on specific structures- the more tasks that are performed at any one time, the greater that such a general reserve neural capacity gets utilized. Whatever the precise neural mechanisms involved, some of the articles in this book, such as the one on the effects of a mild head injury (Marshall and Ruff), highlight the need for neuropsychologists to develop measures of cognitive dysfunction that will be sensitive to subtle sequelae of brain injury, and those measures that incorporate a dual-task performance component will probably be particularly useful in this regard.
As a brain injury attorney the need for neuropsychology research of concussion is forever pressing on my mind. It is encouraging that this neuropsychologist feels the same need for neuropsychology research of concussion.