How the Cerebral Cortex Subserves Psychological Functions Is Well Understood

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The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control centre and home to our personality. There is no other part of the brain where lesions can cause such a wide variety of symptoms (Kolb & Wishaw, 1990). The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behaviour. The frontal lobes are extremely vulnerable to injury due to their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. The frontal lobe is present in all mammalian species and has undergone tremendous evolutionary expansion and it is associated with the expansion of cognitive abilities (Carlson et al, 2004).

This essay will be looking at the definition, the anatomy and the structure of the frontal lobe. It will also begin by tracing the historical context of the frontal lobe and also looking at damages that can occur to the frontal lobes and how it affects psychological functions, especially relating it to some famous cases. Although the frontal lobe has many functions, for the purpose of this essay only two roles of the frontal lobe will be discussed at length and they are the role of the frontal lobe in social behaviour and also linking it to the role of the frontal lobe in execution giving evidence to support the fact that these roles subserves psychological functions with a view to reaching a conclusion.

The frontal lobe comprises about one third of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is made up of four main areas called lobes, which are named after the bones of the skull that cover them, and they are the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe. The brain contains two of each lobe one in each of the hemisphere. The frontal lobe as the name depicts is located at the front and includes everything in front of the central fissure, and it is associated with reasoning, planning, part of speech, movement, emotions and problem solving just to name a few. Because the frontal lobe contains the motor cortex, the primary function of the frontal lobe is to mediate motor activity (Passingham, 1995, cited in Carlson et al, 2004). The three prefrontal regions are the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG) and they are connected to with one another and with the nuclei of the anterior and dorsal thalamus. The medial and the orbital regions are in addition connected to the hypothalamus and other limbic structures; some of these connections are indirect, through the thalamus (Fuster, 1997b). The frontal lobe is regarded as our emotional control centre and home to our personality. Damage to the frontal lobe can result in the person having difficulty in changing strategy for example when they are given a task to solve, they may solve it readily but when the task is changed they fail to abandon the old strategy and learn new ones but however not all frontal lobe patient will exhibit this behaviour (Anderson et al, 1991, cited in Carlson et al 2004). People with damage to the frontal lobe have very bland personality, for example they may show no distress at the death of a relation, they do not show typical psychological response to stress. The frontal lobes are extremely prone to injury because of their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. MRI studies have shown that the frontal lobe area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (Levin et al, 1987). So the most principal function of the prefrontal cortex is the temporal organisation of actions towards biological or cognitive goals (Luria, 1966; Fuster, 1997b). This is the essence of the role of the prefrontal cortex within...
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