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Phineas Gage, Biological Changes Altering Psychology - Case Study Example

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Biological Impact on Psychology Most psychologists are aware of the biological impact of physiology on the normal and abnormal functioning of human behavior. Both are intertwined as to the effect that they both can affect one another. There have been many cases, which experiments and accidents have occurred which have modified the behavior that have been researched by psychologists and scientists alike…
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Phineas Gage, Biological Changes Altering Psychology
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Biological Impact on Psychology Most psychologists are aware of the biological impact of physiology on the normal and abnormal functioning of human behavior. Both are intertwined as to the effect that they both can affect one another. There have been many cases, which experiments and accidents have occurred which have modified the behavior that have been researched by psychologists and scientists alike. One of these cases is a well-known case, which is studied in many introductory psychology classes called Phineas Gauge. Phineas Gauge was a railroad worker who lived during the 19th century. In an incident on working on the railroad, an explosive detonated unexpectedly, sending a metal rod flying through the air. This metal rod impaled Gauge through the head, destroying a majority of the left of his prefrontal lobe. After many months of recovery, Gauge had gained back a majority of his motor functions and ability to perform tasks. However, many people noticed a personality change as well as a host of other cognitive functions. The incident involving Phineas Gauge was important because it showed psychologists and scientists the impact of biology on the human psychology. It also showed that damage or changes done to the brain and other vital neurological structures had the power to change aspects such as personality and cognitive abilities (Huffman, 2009). In today’s society where the threat of injury is behind every corner, whether it be in a military zone or on the highway, it has become important for medical professionals to learn how to deal with cases in which there are brain injuries and there is a resulting psychological change. This then becomes necessary to treat the physiological as well as psychological components. Since the case of Phineas Gauge, medical practitioners have started to recognize the important of understanding how traumatic brain injury causes resulting psychological abnormalities which can range anywhere from depression to mania. In particular, damage to the prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobe has been the main site of investigation. The prefrontal cortex contains the executive functions of the brain meaning that it is in charge of allocating resources to every part of the brain. It has also been shown to have an important role in the functioning of emotional control. In this experiment, twenty-five participants suffering from traumatic brain injury were screened individually using a behavioral inventory to determine patterns in cognitive function specifically dealing with the frontal lobe. The hypothesis was that in accordance with past studies, such as with Phineas Gauge, that in individuals with traumatic brain injury that they would display deviations in behavior and the ability to control executive functioning due to the damage in that area caused by a traumatic incident, which was proven, using a CT. The statistical analysis showed that there was executive control impairment, but only certain aspects of the executive control were affected. As a result, it was again shown like the case of Phineas Gauge that changes in the neuroanatomy has the potential to affect other psychological functions (Rochat, et Al., 2009). The aspect as far as understanding the biological functioning and neurology behind the psychological behavior and thought processes is extremely important. Psychologists know that the brain is the place where all thought processes occur, many of which are organic. Thus, if there is impairment in the physiology, there will be some resulting effect in the psychological processing. The applicability of this research can extend across all domains. In cases where there is head trauma, this research can be used as to better understand the mechanics of the brain so that surgical or medical procedures can be created in order to combat the physiological and psychological illnesses. In addition, there are many different psychological disorders that can be studied by looking those effects of brain damage. Thus, this may provide a model by which other psychological disorders can be studied. References Huffman, K. (2009). Psychology in action. New York, NY: Wiley. Rochat, L., Ammann, J., Mayer, E., Annoni, J., & Van der Linden, M. (2009). Executive disorders and perceived socio-emotional changes after traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neuropsychology, 3(2), 213-227. doi:10.1348/174866408X397656 Read More
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