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Understanding Behavior

Why HD Behaviors Occur

Changes in behavior start with damage to the prefrontal cortex, or the simulator in the brain that creates an internal vision of goals and possible actions of a person. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for organizing, planning, sequencing, and multitasking. When changes in a person’s environment happens, the prefrontal cortex organizes a change in behavior; this is why people with HD have a much more rigid routine and can benefit from a strict, predictable schedule. For people with HD, change makes them anxious, they need more reminders if something needs to be done, and everything is done much slower than before because links between steps are missing from their memory. It is common for someone who has HD to feel overwhelmed and have trouble knowing what he or she needs to pay attention to.

The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for several interpersonal reactions especially as they relate to relationships. Some of these reactions include:

  • Difficulty anticipating social consequences of behavior.

  • Difficulty controlling exaggerated behavioral expression or highly inhibited and apathetic behavior.

  • Difficulty recognizing social cues and nonverbal communication.

  • It becomes more difficult to learn.

  • Language is impaired.

  • Thinking slows down.