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The Role Of The Brain In Cognitive Functions

958 words - 4 pages

Given the science and technology of today, there can be no doubt that the brain controls everything the body does. The brain alone commands, and with the help of the rest of the central nervous system controls, the various operations of the body through autonomic functions like heart beats, breathing, and voluntary functions like looking, lifting, and others (University of Washington, n.d.). Cognitive functions are not exactly autonomic functions, nor are they completely voluntary, instead they are a complex combination of the two, possible to be controlled from either side in a healthy brain. In an unhealthy or damaged brain the control may not be balanced, damage to parts of the brain may restrict, modify, or remove, voluntary or involuntary control of actions and abilities. In this paper, the concept of the brain's role in cognition will be explored; the paper will discuss the accounting of Phineas Gage and his traumatic head injury, and discuss the operation of the prefrontal cortex of the brain as it applies to cognition. As it applies to cognition, the brain is a very complex tool that humankind is permanently attached to, based on the operation of this tool, it either serves us, or inhibits us.The Case of Phineas GagePhineas Gage, was employed by a railroad construction company working near Cavendish, Vermont, as a foreman in1848 (Macmillan, 2000). On September 13, 1848 an accidental explosion drove a tamping rod through the head of Mr. Gage (Macmillan). The tamping rod passed from his cheek through his head landing several yards away (Shreeve, 1995). Phineas Gage recovered relatively quickly, but he was not the same person whom he was before the accident "In place of the diligent, dependable worker stood a foulmouthed and ill-mannered liar given to extravagant schemes that were never followed through" (Shreeve, p. 1). Neurobiologists, Hanna and Antonio Damasio of the University of Iowa were the ones to identify exactly what it was that Phineas had lost (Shreeve). The ventromedial region under the frontal lobes, especially on the left side had been severely damaged as a result of the trauma suffered by Phineas Gage, based on the resultant antisocial personality changes in Mr. Gage it can be deduced that the damage to the ventromedial region was responsible (Shreeve). Present day patients with damage in the same region, regardless of the cause, trauma, tumor, accident, exhibit the same personality changes that Phineas did from his accident, which supports the findings of the Damasios (Gerhand, 1999). Additionally, the observation of some lobotomized patients exhibiting similar symptoms as Phineas Gage, careless, unreliable, foulmouthed was reported (Macmillan).Cognitive Functions and the Prefrontal CortexThe brain has many different areas, through the discoveries made by neuroscience through the use of modern technology, and the overlapping theoretical developments between neuroscience and cognitive science, these areas are becoming more...

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