Thursday, May 06, 2010

Brain Injury

Sports Illustrated:

Dr. Jordan Grafman has never examined nor met Ben Roethlisberger, and yet listening to him talk about the people he studies, it's as if he's describing the troubled Steelers quarterback.

Grafman is a neuropsychologist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and for decades he has studied the effects of brain trauma on Vietnam veterans as well as civilians. "My specialty is frontal lobes," he says, referring to the part of the brain involved in regulating a person's judgment, inhibition and social behavior. "A person with damage might not read the intentions of a woman at a bar very well, for example," Grafman says. "They might succumb to more primitive urges instead of saying, 'I shouldn't do this because it affects my career.'"

It is exactly Roethlisberger's apparent lack of inhibition, foresight about career repercussions and poor social judgment -- and perhaps his inability to judge the intentions of women -- that currently have him suspended from the NFL following two separate accusations of sexual assault, one in Georgia and one in Nevada. Roethlisberger spent the weekend undergoing an evaluation, mandated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to see whether past brain trauma -- a 2006 motorcycle accident and a batch of concussions suffered on the football field -- has anything to do with his behavior.

Forwarded to me by a cognitive scientist and Steelers fan...

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