PBA facts and science

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PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA) symptoms are frequent, uncontrollable outbursts of crying or laughing in people with certain neurologic conditions or brain injuries. PBA is not a new condition. In fact, it was first described in medical literature over 130 years ago by Charles Darwin.

PBA Facts and scienceOver the years, doctors have called PBA by different names such as “emotional incontinence” or “pathological laughing and crying”. As research into brain activity expanded the medical community’s understanding of these symptoms, physicians are increasingly using the term pseudobulbar affect.

Though the names have changed over time, the explanation for the symptoms remains the same. PBA can occur when certain neurologic diseases or brain injuries damage the areas in the brain that control normal expression of emotion. This damage can disrupt brain signaling, causing a ‘short circuit’ and triggering involuntary episodes of crying or laughing.

Who gets PBA?

Though you may have never heard of PBA, you’re not alone. Nearly two million Americans with certain neurologic conditions or brain injuries are estimated to suffer from it. PBA doesn’t discriminate. It can affect men and women, old and young.

Conditions or injuries that can lead to PBA include:

Who gets PBA?

  • Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias
  • Stroke or TIA’s
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)