A fascinating new study published last month in Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience offers a startling new take on yet another consequences of brain damage. The Chicago brain injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that these sorts of findings may soon have consequences on various aspect of injury cases related to this harm caused caused by the negligence of others.
As reported the Doctor’s Lounge, the study took a look at the consequences of damage to the prefrontal cortex. Researchers suspected that this area of the brain was crucial in issues such as belief and doubt. If true, they suspected that those which problems in these regions would show signs of struggles with traditional uses of these mental tools.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers (from the University of Iowa) presented various advertisements to patients with damage to different parts of the brain. Eighteen participants had harm to their ventromedial prefrontal cortex, twenty one had damage outside that area, and ten had no brain damage. The reaction and response to the eight ads were compared across the three groups.
They found differences depending on brain injury.
Similar to the suspicions of researchers beforehand, there were differences in doubt and belief of the misleading ads for those who had damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Those individuals were more likely to believe the ads, and they were most likely to express interest in buying the products highlighted in the material. Surprisingly, when the ads included a clear disclaimer explaining that the material was misleading, the skewed results persisted. In other words, even when warned of the problem, those with that particular brain injury were still more likely to be fooled by the unfair sales pitch.
Of course, this has potential implications for those who suffer a traumatic brain injury to that part of the organ in incidents like car accidents and falls. In addition, researchers suspect that this fragility may disproportionately affect seniors who may have chronic problems with the prefrontal cortex as part of the aging process. This may be why seniors are more likely to fall for various fraud schemes.
What might this mean for future legal actions?
Our Chicago brain injury attorneys know that calculation of damages following an accident is a tricky process. The basic idea is that one hurt by the negligence of another should receive as much redress as necessary to “make themselves whole.” Therefore, the damage assessment process includes a full analysis of the overall harm caused to the injured party and the cost of correcting that harm.
Certain harms are easy to calculate–like medical bills. Other harms are much tougher to account for, like damage to long-term cognitive decision-making. However, that does not mean that the law should not attempt to fairly assess this harm and include it in some form in an award. As more and more research comes out of the likely long-term harm experienced by brain injury victims, that knowledge will likely be factored into these cases.
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