Neuroscience And Social Work Essay

2086 words - 9 pages

In order to better understand our clients and their experiences, we must first understand the way that our brains work. All of what occurs in the social and emotional aspects of our lives can be explained by using theories of neuroscience. Neuroscience focuses on specific brain structures and how they affect individuals. For years there was little connection between neuroscience and social work, but the importance of linking the two fields has become more popular in recent years. As science has progressed and more information has been discovered about how our brains work, it is necessary for social workers to have a good understanding of neuroscience. Some of the most crucial topics for social workers to understand are the structure of the brain, brain development, neuroplasticity, attachment theory, affect regulation, and trauma. By understanding these concepts, we can provide more effective interventions for the unique clients that we serve.
The human brain weighs approximately three pounds and contains approximately 100 billion neurons (Farmer, 2009, p. 21). The brainstem is the oldest part of the brain and it controls important functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and our fundamental emotions such as happiness or sadness. It also sends and receives information from the spinal cord. Above the brainstem is the thalamus, which connects to the higher cortical regions of the brain. It manages sensations such as touch. The hippocampus surrounds the thalamus and it manages spatial working memory, learning, and emotion. The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain is responsible for movement and cognitive and emotional functions. The outer region of the brain is the cerebral cortex and is divided into the occipital lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and frontal lobe. The occipital lobe deals primarily with vision and processing visual information. The parietal lobe processes sensory information and works with the occipital lobe to process the information it receives. It also deals with attention and language. The temporal lobe controls memory and learning as well as auditory and visual perception. The frontal lobe controls social behavior, decision making, movement, and language. It is “where our higher emotions and personality reside” (UniversityOfBristol, 2010). Understanding these parts of the brain helps social workers to support their clients more effectively. For example, if a social worker has a client with a frontal lobe injury, they will understand if the client struggles with decision making and social skills if they have a good idea of how the brain works. In order to better understand our clients, we must understand our brains and how they work.
Fortunately for us, our brains have the ability to change and adapt even as adults. This change and adaptation is referred to as neuroplasticity. For years researchers believed that our brains stop growing after adolescence. Donald Hebb suggested in...

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