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Affects of Frontal Lobe Damage

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Damage to the frontal lobe cortex of the brain can cause difficulty in everyday activities. The frontal lobes role in people's behavior includes executive processes, language, emotional expression and movement. Ryan Godfrey has difficulties in some areas of executive processes due to the damage tumors caused in his brain. Ryan and others with frontal lobe damage can benefit from knowing these deficits by taking steps to reduce their impact. The brain tends to compensate for damaged parts and a faith in God brings power to overcome deficits. Thus, behavioral difficulties for frontal lobe damaged patients are only a guideline not a box, for nothing is impossible for God to accomplish.

A 23-year-old man, named Ryan Godfrey was observed in his everyday behaviors to understand how he deals with frontal lobe damage. When he was 7 years, old the doctors discovered a grapefruit size benign meningioma tumor in his brain. After this, he had six more surgeries and his last one left him paralyzed on his left side. This was because most of his tumors were found in the right hemisphere, prefrontal cortex with his last surgery towards the premotor and motor cortex causing his paralysis. Ryan overcame being paralyzed with a desire to play basketball and video games. Today he is running sound for church, working full time and helping with student ministries. People like him can benefit from understanding the brain and its functions.

The frontal lobe comprises a third of the brain and it enables us to engage in higher cognitive functions such as planning and problem solving (Jonides & Smith, 1999). The frontal lobe is divided into 3 regions, the motor cortex, premotor cortex, and prefrontal cortex. The motor cortex is located in the precentral gyrus and directs fine motor coordination. The premotor cortex is involved in planning, organizing, and integrating body movements. The prefrontal is involved in executive functions, including short-term memory, working memory, decision making, and prioritizing behaviors (Wilson, 2003). Some of the frontal lobe disorders than can cause brain damage and behavioral changes are Huntington's disease, infection, stroke, tourettes, dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, tumors, closed head injury and traumatic brain injury (Chow, 2000).

People with frontal lobe damage have a hard time distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information. They will often attend to what they perceive to be relevant information and ignore irrelevant. For example, Ryan opened up only the mail that seemed relevant at the time and put others aside. However, the mail put aside was forgotten about. His mom about 5 months later discovered the unopened mail was very important and some needed an asap response. Thus, Ryan does seem to have some sort of difficulty than others with understand what is relevant, and remembering to get back to things. There has also been research conducted on the frontal lobes function in processing relevant and irrelevant information.

Humphreys and Kumada's research results were that people with frontal lobe damage showed difficulty in selecting task-relevant information while ignoring task-irrelevant (Humphreys & Kumada, 2002). Sometimes these people tend to get confused on what is important and what are not, as most people occasionally do. Some frontal lobe damage people struggle more with relevant information than others do. "Frontal lobe lesions only appear to affect the ability to gate or inhibit irrelevant stimulus information" (Gershberg, Jurica, Mangels, & Shimamura, 1995, p145). Research is usually just a bunch of theories, or experiments that have not been proven wrong yet. The tendency for frontal damage is that a part of the brain has been damaged or removed that helps with these functions.

Attention to certain information tends to be a main deficit for people with frontal lobe damage. Divided attention relies more on right frontal activation, whereas focused attention, the ability to inhibit irrelevant stimuli, may involve the orbitofrontal lobe (Chayer & Freedman, 2001). Thus, behavioral actions depend on what part of the brain was damaged. Ryan's right side was damaged and thus it is observed that he has difficulty with staying focused on one specific task.

In scheduling processes, complex tasks require the switching of focused attention between tasks (Jonides & Smith, 1999). It is referred to as task management, like keeping a daily log of what to do and at what time. Without the help of others, people with frontal lobe damage often forget appointments or other tasks around the house that need to be done.

The planning process of executive functions can be hindered by frontal lobe damage. The frontal lobe is involved with all kinds of executive functions including planning .Carrying out a plan requires one to initiate, maintain, switch, and stop at the appropriate moment during a sequence of actions (Chayer & Freedman, 2001). The first problem in planning is the initiation of the tasks. People who can get past that then are required to understand when to do what task, sometimes maintaining one while executing another. It has often been observed in Ryan that multiple tasks require extra effort and sometimes seem impossible.

For individuals looking ahead to the future, even to plan something small like a vacation is difficult with their frontal lobe damage. These difficulties are not for everyone with frontal lobe damage, but have been observed in numerous people. "Planning requires the ability to look ahead in time, generate hypothesis for future events, select relevant actions according to the context, and sequence the actions needed to accomplish a specific goal" (Chayer & Freedman, 2001, p548). Planning tends to incorporate other difficulties such as initiation, distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information and sequencing. Thus, the frontal lobe regulates many executive processes that tend to blend.

Initiation of tasks is a difficulty for some frontal lobe damaged people. Ryan has difficulties starting the processes to making a meal. His mom came home one day and on the table were the tomato soup, bread, cheese and skillet. He could not remember how to make the soup and grilled cheese. Lepage and Richer's results suggest that frontal lobe lesions produce a general slowing of sequence initiation, do not prevent the decrease in initiation time linked to advance knowledge of the first response, and significantly reduce the facilitation of initial time by advance knowledge of multiple responses (Lepage & Richer, 2000). Thus, the study tried to give the people prior knowledge of responses to questions and this still did not reduce their initiation time. Just like with Ryan his mom had told him the steps to making the meal and he still delayed in initiating.




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