Localization Of Human Brain Function Essay

1036 words - 4 pages

There have been various studies in the past that have had concepts and theories of localization of function, also known as functional specialization in the human brain. The theory of localization of function, suggests that different areas and parts of the brain pertain to different body functions such as cognitive speech, visual reception/perception and motor impairment or motor neglect. This topic in particular has gained scientific credibility only recently, in the last two centuries, which is relatively new compared to the history of mankind, through the help of Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke. These two figures are monumental, in terms of fostering the idea and concept of localization of function that have been supported by their clinical case studies. There have been eruptions of other studies that contain significant relevance and evidence which reinforce the theory of localization, such as the empirical studies of Phineas Gage, and Henry Gustav Molaison.

Phineas Gage was one of the earliest documented cases of severe brain trauma and brain injury. He was an American railroad construction foreman that had undergone a near fatal experience on his work site. On September 13, 1848, Gage was working with his crew of members to prepare a roadbed for a railroad near Cavendish, Vermont. His objective and task was to add blasting powder and a fuse which he would compact into the holes of the rocks to clear them. However, when he was using an instrument, known as a tamping iron, to press the explosive down, the powder reacted and blew up on contact. The explosion lodged the tamping iron into his skull that entered from the left cheek and exited through the top right of his skull. Gage was, to astonishment, conscious on site and was rushed to the nearest hospital in town where he would meet two physicians that examined the remarkable outcome of such an experience. Gage met with Dr. Edward H. Williams, who examined Phineas at first glance. Dr. Edward noticed that Phineas had an unusual persistence of re-telling the event that occurred and that his brain was hemorrhaging profusely. Another physician was granted charge of the case, known as Dr. John Martyn Harlow. Dr. Harlow was the physician that nursed Gage to recovery. Although the instrument was successfully removed during surgery, the frontal lobe, the front part of the brain nearest to the forehead, was damaged and Gage was showing signs of disinhibition. Disinhibition is the inability to filter impulses such as angry verbal outbursts; it is generally quite common to patients suffering from prefrontal cortex damage, which is situated in front of the eyes. Dr. Harlow closely examined Gage during and post recovery. It became coherent that the brain damage impaired Gage’s inability to think rationally, which in result; his desires seemed to manifest his personality. Gage was described as “Fitful, irreverent and indulging due to his overuse of profanity due to disinhibition” post-accident, and...

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