Understanding Cognitive Functions and Brain Injury

The brain is a major component of the central nervous system. The CNS is composed of the spinal cord and the brain; these two play a major role in controlling the day to day body processes. The brain is a very complex organ, it helps us to have emotions, to focus and think.

The brain is made up of nervous cells called neurons these are more or less similar to other body cells, though they are unique and carry out specific functions. A neuron is built up of three parts namely: the cell body, the axon, and the dendrites.

Phineas gage suffered a severe brain injury and these helped explain the brain`s role in cognitive functions. His accident showed how the brain areas support the cognitive functions. These cognitive functions are supported by various brain areas. He suffered the accident as he was excavating rocks to construct a railway. His brain structure had been damaged and doctors argue that his behavior had started changing after the accident. The doctors found out that the left frontal region helps in the development of personality.


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Gage had suffered a lesion in that area hence the change in personality. The right prefrontal cortices were also damaged, this affected his rational decisional making and emotion processing. From this accident, the doctors were able to associate various parts of the brain and cognitive functions. (Guyton, 1991)

The brain`s cognitive function differentiates human beings from other species. The cognitive part of the brain controls the body processes, thoughts, and movements. These functions are controlled by the cerebrum, which consists of the frontal lobe, occipital area, temporal lobe and the parietal lobe.

Other cognitive functions include perception, problem-solving, movement, learning, and memory. Some functions require coordination from other parts of the brain ie speaking, learning and reading. The cells in the cerebrum help in learning, it’s in this way that people acquire new skills. Neurotransmitters send signals from one part of the brain to another. If these brain cells are damaged by accident, the person involved will have a hard time learning, this is evident in gage`s case. (Lishman, 1998)

The cerebrum also plays a great role in memory processing; there are cells responsible for this. These cells get worn out with age thus old people experience memory loss. These cells could also be damaged in the event of an accident hence people involved will experience memory loss. Hippocampus is usually responsible for memory processing; it helps transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. In the event of an accident, this area could also be damaged. The cognitive function also helps coordinate movement particularly the motor area which is located behind the frontal lobe. This area allows easy and free movement from one place to another.

(3.1) Characteristics of the primary memory

This refers to the memory that’s presently active when one is thinking of a situation. It can also be referred to as the short-term memory. This is where information is encoded temporarily and could either be forgotten or passed on to the secondary storage. It has a capacity of 5-9units; depending on the type of units .it’s basically temporary.

Describe the process of memory from perception to retrieval

The information in the primary memory can either be forgotten through interference and decay or either encoded to the secondary memory. If this information is seen as relevant to information contained in the secondary memory, the information is transferred to the secondary memory. Semantics in sensory memory, primary memory, and secondary are all mediated by information that already exists and is encoded in the secondary memory. This information is retrieved whenever necessary.

Assess the unreliability of memory retrieval

At times memory retrieval can be unreliable especially information concerning periphery information. Retrieval is usually successful when you are at the same location where the information was encoded. Cues such as surrounding environment i.e. same place or same setting, make retrieval process simpler.

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