Phineas Gage and the Role of the Brain in Cognitive Functioning

1111 words 5 pages
Phineas Gage and the Role of the Brain in Cognitive Functioning
BreAnne Warden
PSY/360
December 5, 2011
Devlin Crose

Phineas Gage and the Role of the Brain in Cognitive Functioning The brain plays a key role in cognitive functioning. Of the many areas in the brain, only certain areas have an impact on cognitive functioning. The case of a man named Phineas Gage showed key elements of specific areas in the brain that support certain cognitive functions. The traumatic brain injury that Phineas Gage suffered in 1848 has aided cognitive and neuropsychologists in making large strides in understanding the human mind. In the following work, the role of the brain in cognitive functioning will be examined and better explained. Examples
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The area of Phineas Gage’s brain that suffered the most extensive damage during the aforementioned accident was Gage’s frontal lobe (Grieve, 2010). As was mentioned previously, the frontal lobe supports many cognitive functions such as personality, retaining long-term emotional memories, and decision making (Grieve, 2010). According to Grieve (2010), Gage made a surprising recovery over the next year following his accident. Written documents by the physician who cared for Gage suggest that Phineas Gage was “not the same person” after recovering from his accident (Grieve, 2010). As described by Grieve (2010), Gage’s physician described Phineas Gage before the accident as having a “well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman who was very energetic and persistent in executing his plans of operation” (p. 173). Directly following his recovery from the traumatic brain injury, Gage was described by his physician as using profanity, being impatient, and not following through with his plans amongst having many other negative qualities (Grieve, 2010). The injuries Phineas Gage sustained from the explosion suggest that when his frontal lobe was damaged, certain personality characteristics that people valued in him were changed. Before the accident Gage appears to have been considered a kind and hard-working man, but following the accident

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