You know how I was joking around the other week when I posted up images from my MRI scan? Turns out the joke is on me.
The story is this:
Waaaaay back in 1983, when I was a lad of 12 going on 13, I worked weekends at the Bundaberg Gun Club. My job was to spend the entire day down a dirty, smelly, hole in the ground, covered by concrete, putting clay pigeons
onto machines called traps which shot them out into the sky at a million miles per hour (or thereabouts) for the guys standing 10 metres behind me to shoot with shotguns.
Well one day in 1982, I was down in the hole with my best mate Ross. It was lunchbreak, and we busy re-stacking a large automatic trap which could hold about 100 clays at a time. The usual ones only held one at a time. We had our flag up to let the shooters know that we were in an unsafe position. The process was supposed to be that, before they resumed shooting, they came down to our hole, told us they were ready to go, and we would resume our safety positions (ie sit BEHIND the trap).
Well for whatever reason on this day, after lunch they decided to just start shooting without warning us. The trap was operating by remote control from where they stood (they yell "PULL" and the adjudicator presses the button to shoot the clay).
As it happened, when they pressed the button, I was standing to the side of the trap and my head was directly in the path of the large metal arm which flings the clays out into the sky...
Ross managed to get me out of there when I re-gained consciousness after a minute and they took me to hospital where I stayed for a week with a head the size of a watermelon. I've still got a hole in my skull just near my left temple but I hardly think about it.
It was my dear old mum who noticed the white bits on the MRI scan below.
I asked my shrink about it yesterday and he concurs - that's some serious brain damage in my left pre-frontal cortex (the images are reversed).
Now HE thinks, because I was only 12, I was probably lucky, because that part of your brain doesn't fully develop until later on in life. The brain probably just re-routed the neuronal development around the damaged areas.
HOWEVER. I was an early bloomer (at least I was until then). I reckon that cost me.
I remember reading this study last year about the each side of the pre-frontal cortex and how they seems to correspond to emotion.
Dr. Richard Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, in recent research using functional M.R.I. and advanced EEG analysis, has identified an index for the brain's set point for moods.
The functional M.R.I. images reveal that when people are emotionally distressed anxious, angry, depressed the most active sites in the brain are circuitry converging on the amygdala, part of the brain's emotional centers, and the right prefrontal cortex, a brain region important for the hypervigilance typical of people under stress.
By contrast, when people are in positive moods upbeat, enthusiastic and energized those sites are quiet, with the heightened activity in the left prefrontal cortex.
So I'm interested - is my damaged LEFT pre-frontal cortex partly responsible for my moods?
Anyway - my shrink refuses to give me a "mentally disabled" sticker for my car so I can get those good carparks and a disability pension.