Tag Archives: brain injury

Barley Eating – Video

My mom managed to capture the last 30 seconds of Barley eating. I think it’s interesting how she’s trying to completely clear her bowl (in the side that she is already eating from) so one might suggest she is still feeling hungry when she walks away from the bowl, presumably because she ‘thinks’ it is empty!

The saga continues…


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Barley’s forgotten her food again. Hemispatial neglect symptoms in dog continue.

More images of Barley eating, these are from the 6th September, this time she didn’t eat her whole bowl and again ate only from the right hand side.

So the left hemispace neglect symptoms seem to still be present. I’m working on getting a video and mom has said she’ll try to get the vet to maybe get a scan of barley’s brain so will post those if/when they happen.

Have been in touch with a researcher in my dept at Royal Holloway who forwarded the info on to a researcher at UCL’s NIC. He seems very interested in it, and pointed out that Balint induced neglect symptoms in a dog in his early studies on neglect.

Again, anyone with any information that might be useful please get in touch with me. I should get back to writing up my research project, draft is due in next week and I’ve not written a great deal so far.


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Update: Apparent symptoms of neglect in Barley

It’s difficult for me to write with 100% accuracy about her progress as I am at university 80 miles away from home so am relying on interpretations from emails/photographs and updates via the phone from my mom (who is being incredibly helpful, so big thanks is due!).

But Barley’s most recent progress seems quite promising. My mom said she’d noticed Barley’s ‘fussy eating’ (as she calls it) about 2/3 weeks ago after what was likely to have been another stroke since her first major stroke just over a month ago, which left her with a strong left side weakness which she is now recovering from. The photo’s she has sent today indicate that if she is showing  signs of neglect or another similar neurological condition that these  symptoms are beginning to subside. However, I still think that they way in which she is eating is still very interesting, see the below photos for an illustration.

There seems to be a definite right side preference for the food bowl, (image one) and she clears a whole half almost down a straight line bisection before she moves across to the second ‘half’ of the bowl on her left hand side (image 3). The fourth picture seems to indicate she has changed position slightly, as in the previous photos she is standing right in front of the bowl and in this image she seems to be at it’s side. Again I’ll stress that I do not know precisely how she is eating, I keep trying to get my mom to work out video on her photo so we can have a more accurate step by step portrayal of this.

The fact that she’s managing now to eat her entire bowl without promting is a nice postive sign, I suppose as cool as it is that she’s showing these signs of a neglect I do really want her to get better and make a good recovery. I’m not all about ‘the science’.

I’ll end with this image of Barley being looked after by our new Puppy called Moya (who’s in training to be a dog for the disabled for my mom who has a degenerative spinal condition. I love Moya, she is awesome even if she ate my teddy bear last time I went home!)

Thanks to all of you who’ve seen the post about Barley and have shared it around. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I might better test for neglect signs other than with her food bowl please don’t hesitate to put them forward! I’m also not sure how long neglect can last in a dog when it hasn’t been induced medically for scientific research purposes. So I’d be most grateful for any info from those with veterinary science backgrounds or experience with such things as well. All other information about this condition that anyone may have would be really great to see too!


Filed under neuropsychology, Pets, Sciencey

The Curious Case of Phineas Gage.

Aged 25 and working on the US railroad in Vermont in 1848, Phineas Gage was lucky to survive when a three foot long, tampering iron was propelled through his skull! The blast was caused by Gage neglecting to place a layer of protective sand between the fuse of the dynamite and the tampering pole. Remarkably Gage survived, at the time of his injury he remained conscious and did not even report any pain. He was treated by Dr. John Martyn Harlow, who cared for him during his recovery.

Whilst Gage was recovering well physically, Dr. Harlow noticed changes in his demeanour. An extract from the Doctor’s medical notes reads,

Gage was fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man. Previous to his injury, although untrained in the schools, he possessed a well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman, very energetic and persistent in executing all his plans of operation. In this regard his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was ‘no longer Gage’.

It appeared that post his brain injury Gage quite literally became a new man, and this was not a change for the better. Gage died aged 37 after the onset of severe epileptic seizures, no examination of his brain took place at his death. However, his body was exhumed in order that his skull could be examined. From this it has been possible to deduce which brain areas were more likely to have been damaged, which might have implications for the role of particular areas involving personality.
It is likely that the anterior frontal cortex was most significantly damaged. It was the first real case that gave strong evidence that frontal lobes are likely to be important in aspects of human nature such as personality, decision making, and moral approach.

It seems likely now given some recent evidence that Gage did learn to adapt to the changes in his personality and those aspects reported by Harlow might have been only short term. This would be expected as generally adaptation occurs following brain injury, the brain is highly plastic in its nature, which means that even the most severe of injuries can become less impacting on mental and physical wellbeing over time.

It’s important that we remember that this is a single case study, based on evidence from well over one hundred years ago. It makes a nice story to tell in class and keeps people interested, but we aren’t studying history. There was never any real information collected based on the actual physical injuries to Gages brain, if this type of injury occurred today they could have popped him into an MRI scanner and had a proper look at what was going on. Alas, psychologists have relied on mere speculation to develop their theories of brain and personality based on Gage’s case. It is pretty bloody cool though.

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