The up-side of frontal lobe damage

Apparently, frontal lobe damage affects how we process “negative” information —

Pollyanna Had Brain Damage! Study Claims Faulty Brain Wiring Sparks Unrealistic Optimism

You might be a “glass half empty” person or a “glass half full” person, but if you’re a “glass is half full even if it’s empty” person, your brain may be a tad off kilter.

That’s the conclusion of a neuroimaging study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nature Neuroscience.  Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) wanted to find out what’s going on in the brains of people who remain optimistic even when every bit of evidence argues for a less rosy perspective.

Check out the Forbes article for more >>.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

9 thoughts on “The up-side of frontal lobe damage”

  1. Interesting concept and of course there are life experiences that also contribute to attitudes but I’m aware that wasn’t mentioned here. Hey, I’d rather have this faulty wiring than other issues! I’m still thinking about this … so is being called a Pollyanna good or bad? I’d rather be optimistic than pessimistic!


  2. Well, I think the folks at Forbes are not big fans of Pollyanna — to be honest, I never much cared for the movie, even though I got the point… everybody’s got issues and I’d rather “err” on the side of unbridled optimism, anyway. Nobody knows what’s going to happen — why not expect something good? Feeling bad all the time is, well, bad for you.



  3. Gotta LOVE those studies, huh? So now that it has been “studied” does that mean we are allowed to believe what is easily observable through old data, or is there a new application uncovered that is actually useful? (aka, Somebody actually got funding for this study???)

    Ah well – GREAT fodder for discusion.

    Feel the need to say for the bazillianth time – there IS no “neurotypical” brain from which to measure “abnormal” – it’s a statistical sampling that presents through (and alters) beliefs and perspectives. Studies quantify statistical samplings. (RICH is not “normal” either, but it sure brings more juice than thick-skinned “poor” – focused on values beyond “cash is king,” that is.)

    @BB re: “bad for you” – literally – older studies indicate that “realists” have statistically significant increased rates of depressive disorders, measured against “neurotypicals” or “optimists.”

    I side with Affective Neuroscience (and the woo-woo fringe spirituality authors) — i.e., life upgrades when we steer toward higher vibrational states via the rudder of emotional responses — info conveyed below the level of conscious awareness.

    Silver linings offer prettier views? Ugly makes us frown, which intensifies negative affect simply by the way in which our face maps to our emotional centers? WHATever . . .

    As I initially said to my late best friend Robin, discovering it has relevence to a great many applications beyond the reason I said it to him, “When life hands you the shit end of the stick, don’t forget you also have the STICK end. Turn it around to get a cleaner grip.”

    The challenge, of course, is to make it a habit of doing so. I keep workin’ on it!!
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore, ADDerWorld & ethosconsultancynz – dot com)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


  4. Hey, great stick analogy – I’m going to use that, and also relate it to my friends, as well. I have one friend in particular who is a chronic depressive, as much by choice as by temperament. They also have a long history of TBI and drug use, and I think they’ve had the exact opposite effect that I’ve had. Talking to them sometimes is like looking into a dark abyss — there is nothing apparently shiny in there. So, I just don’t pay any attention to them, and I have the conversations I want to have with them. It sounds weird, but it works. And it gets them out of their abysmal darkness.


    The whole neurotypical thing is a crock, I think. Some days, I think that the most “typical” folks are the ones who can pretend the best that they are close to the norm. In fact, after days and weeks and months and years of pondering this, I think that’s the definition of “normal” — someone who can uphold social norms (the expectations of others and the requirements of socially defined everyday life) without apparent difficulty. It’s only when it all becomes too difficult or not worth it at all, that we slip out of “normal” range.

    I think this also explains how we can appear to be normal, but still feel so out of place. When we do a good job of imitating others and living up to their (generally unrealistic and biased) expectations, others see us as normal. When we don’t, then we become a problem — for them, anyway.

    I’m sure I’ll think of something else, but for now, that’s what I’ve got.

    Cheers – and thanks for writing


  5. re: “It’s only when it all becomes too difficult or not worth it at all, that we slip out of “normal” range. ”

    My club was BORN with it all too difficult to pretend to belong in the normal box – why do you think we need to take drugs to function in the linear world?

    Just like them, come to think of it – we take drugs to be able to climb INTO the box, they take drugs to to be able to climb out.

    Let the good times roll!

    PS. here’s another thing I remind my clients ALL the time: “Normal” is not the goal – “extraordinary” is the goal. Extraordinary people are NEVER normal!


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