Lesions Of The Prefrontal Cortex Essay

1592 words - 7 pages

Lesions of the Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a wide variety of
functions. It is known as the area of the brain which has
“executive control”, taking input from other areas of the brain
and combining and applying those functions (Kalat 2004).
Lesions to the prefrontal area can greatly impair overt behavior
of an inflicted individual. These deficits are dependent upon
the severity of the lesion and the specific region of the
prefrontal cortex in which the lesion resides (ventrolateral,
dorsolateral, orbitofrontal, and anterior prefrontal)(Eslinger

Individuals with prefrontal lesions usually display
emotional, ...view middle of the document...

Persons with
left hemisphere lesions are often depressed and display
inhibition which includes apathy, flattened affect, withdrawal,
narrowing of interests(Trauner 2001). Patients with right or
left hemispheric lesions may experience disinhibition which
includes euphoria, impulsivity, and irritability, inappropriate
emotional responses and impaired judgment (Trauner 2001).

Intellectual capacities can remain preserved, and
individuals with prefrontal damage can score normal-average
intelligence on standard IQ tests (Eslinger 2003). Cognitive
deficits which do appear relate to attention, self-regulation,
inhibition, planning, problem solving, critical thinking,
organization, working memory, self-awareness and self-
monitoring, and goal-directed behavior (Eslinger 2003).

Available cases of early prefrontal cortex damage provide
evidence for the importance of this region in psychological
development (Eslinger 2003). Anderson (1999) discussed the
important cognitive and behavioral deficit differences between
childhood onset of prefrontal cortex lesions and adult onset
lesions to the prefrontal cortex. Adults who experience a
lesion to the prefrontal cortex have had years of normal
cognitive and social behavior development. A lesion to certain
regions of the prefrontal cortex will cause severe damage in
decision making abilities and social behavior, but patients tend
to retain intellectual abilities and preserve factual social
knowledge of relevant social conventions, rules and cues, even
if they find themselves unable to act on them (Anderson 1999).

Individuals with childhood-onset lesions show a degree of
cognitive alteration, ranging from moderate to severe (Trauner
2001). A child who has a lesion to the prefrontal cortex may be
unable to obtain the needed decision making abilities and social
knowledge because the region of the brain which helps them to
process that information is damaged (Anderson 1999). Because
damage to the prefrontal area impairs the ability for a person
to learn from experience, many children afflicted have developed
behavioral deficits despite a stable home life, family and
school peers to model appropriate behavior and behavior
modification programs aimed at correcting the “problem” behavior
in childhood and adolescence(Anderon 1999).

The behavioral deficits experienced by adult-onset and
child-onset prefrontal lesion patients appear similar, but
child-onset deficits are more severe. These individuals have a
greater tendency to display antisocial behavior like stealing
and violence (Anderson 1999). Without the years of socially
relevant knowledge to recall, child-onset patients are less
likely to experience any form of remorse. Adult-onset behavior
is more constrained, although acting impulsively and the
susceptibility to act on immediate cues leaves them at risk to

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