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Cognitive Psychology: Phineas Gage’s Brain Injury Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2021


Cognitive psychology is a school of thought that deals with internal mental processes like problem-solving, memory, and language. Cognition is a process where the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, and then recovered. Two views were concerned with the localization of the higher cognitive functions. First, it is phrenology which in the extreme form ensured that all the cognitive abilities and the personality traits had specific areas of the brain that control each one separately.

This view was rejected because most of the proponents of it did not follow the scientific methods. Second, it is the view that postulated that the higher cognitive functions and the traits could only be localized in the cerebral cortex where the cortex functioned as a whole with any part of it substituting for the functions of the other. It also showed that the effects on the cognitive functions were due to the cortical lesions because of the extent of the damaged tissue. Scientist accepts the version between the holism and the phrenology due to the discovery of the association of cortices. (Antonio, 2000)

Main Body

The study of the sensory systems that is the vision led to the discovery that a lot of the processing was carried out by the system itself. The dependent of the cortical localization is the higher-order sensory cortices such as the detection of direction, intensity, contrast, and speed. This area is of importance to the human brain because one can know how to deal with the surrounding area. Some areas respond to the combination of the two sensory inputs and they are called the association cortices. The cortical systems are classified based on the functions they play in the brain. There are the primary sensory cortices whereby it is the part in which information first arrives at the cortical level.

There are also the higher-order sensory cortices and also the association cortices that have to function in harmony. The cortical association areas are mainly for thought and perception as the stimulation of these areas produces behavioral changes but still receives the sensory input from the high order sensory systems and the project to the motor cortex. The association areas of the cortex are the parietal- temporal- occipital cortex which has regions that receive somatosensory, auditory, and visual projections and also receives the high-order input from their respective cortices.

The prefrontal association areas have control over several cognitive behaviors and also have control over motor planning. These parts of the brain have to function well so that the person will not have problems in carrying out the activities. If the brain is affected by things like diseases then it means that one will not do the work as expected because the controller of the functioning of the body is affected. The brain is seen as the most delicate part of the body that requires a lot of care as malfunctioning of one part of the brain leads to an effect on the whole body.

Phineas Gage is the most famous person that survived severe damage to the brain. In the accident, he was knocked over but did not lose his consciousness with the fact that his left side of the brain was completely damaged. The accident he was engaged in was a blast that led to the explosion of the powder as he carried an iron in his head. The tamping iron went in point first under his left cheekbone and also completely out through the top of his head where it landed about several yards behind him. After his treatment, he felt strong enough to resume his work this is because his personality completely changed. (Antonio, 2000)

Before the accident, he was a capable and efficient foreman, with a well-balanced mind and a smart businessman. But after the accident, he was fitful, irrelevant, and grossly profane and had little deference for the fellow workers, impatient and obstinate although capricious and vacillating and also he was not able to fulfill the plans he had in future. Been that he was seriously harmed he was able to resume an occupation even though not in the post he was before the accident.

This shows that other parts have been affected and the brain been in order then one can undertake the duties he or she had before. The accounts of the life of Gage were strange mixtures of the slight fact, considerable fancy, and the downright fabrication. He exhibited himself in large towns. He drifted aimlessly and lost interest in work this is because he was incapable of performing an activity. He was also seen as a freak, in circuses in that country. This was due to the accident that had much impact on his brain functioning. (Damasio, 1996)

The reasons for the performance of functional brain imaging and the cognitive studies with healthy individuals are that there are scientific interests in how activity in the different regions of the brain support different sensory, cognitive, and emotional, and motor functions. The investigations based on the cognitive and the visual system function that is done in the laboratory helps one to know how the performance of activities in different people varies across different tasks conditions.

People undertake activities depending on the brain performance in that an activity can be well done if one has his or her brain functioning well. With this information then one knows that people have activities been performed differently because of the functional anatomy of the different brain circuits and the discrimination of the unique computational activities performed by their component structures. Having a comprehensive understanding of the anatomy and the functioning of the brain then one can know the normal human function and thus be able to understand the impact of changes in the brain due to developmental abnormalities, diseases, and also due to injury.

When one has a sober mind then it means he or she can be able to carry out the activities in the right manner this is because one’s brain should not be interfered with by anything that could lead to loss of memory. The brain is seen to be the most important part of our body as it has control over what we have to do. The accident that Phineas faced then shows that the brain has control over every part of the body.

This is because he was affected in that he was not able to carry out his activities well as he worked in one occupation although in two areas. The brain has the function of memory whereby one can think about something that happened a long time ago and also remember the effects that were related to that incident. Through the brain, all the activities are first interpreted in it and then transferred to other parts of the body. Loss of memory leads to a lack of control over the action that one has to carry and also no direction for such an individual.

The brain seems to have the core function in one’s body this is because according to Gage after some time he lost interest in his work this means that he was affected seriously and that his brain lost control.

The effects in the brain have to be well taken into consideration because the person will find it hard to carry out the duties that he or she is expected to carry. The clinical officers carry out research where they have a study on healthy people so that they can use that data to conclude another study that is done on the patients with specific disease so that one can be able to know whether that disease has affected the brain and that data is used in the Jeffrey, hospitals to be able to treat patients who come with the same problem. (Ray, 1984)


The brain has the role of ensuring all the parts in the bodywork as expected and that the person that is concerned follows the working precautions in the right manner. The brain has to be functioning well so that one will not find it hard to carry out the functions at the best. If one’s brain is affected then it means that the activities are wrongly done. The brain is seen to be very delicate and also it is the part that has control over the action that is to be conducted in the body. Thus everyone should have a frequent look at the functioning of the brain so that any disease that affects the brain is treated at an early stage without waiting for things to get worse. This is because diseases or an injury in the brain effect s the whole body.


Antonio, M (2000). Brain and cognition. Harvard University.

Damasio, R (1996). Emotion, reason and human brain. Oxford press.

Ray, J (1984). The cognitive reasoning on basis of human brain functioning. New York: Macmillan.

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