Frontal Lobe - Damage

Damage

Stuss, et al. discuss in a review of many studies how damage to the frontal lobe can occur in an assortment of ways and result in many different consequences. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) and/or strokes are common causes of frontal lobe damage in older adults (ages 65 and older). These strokes and TIAs (or mini-strokes) can occur due to blockage of blood flow to the brain or because of the rupturing of a blood vessel/aneurysm inside of the brain. Other ways in which injury can occur include head injuries such as concussions incurred during accidents, diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease (which cause dementia symptoms), and frontal lobe epilepsy (which can occur at any age).

Common effects of damage to the frontal lobe are varied. Patients who have experienced frontal lobe trauma may know the appropriate response to a situation but display inappropriate to those same situations in “real life.” Similarly, emotions that are felt may not be expressed in the face or voice. For example, someone who is feeling happy would not smile, and his or her voice would be devoid of emotion. Along the same lines, though, the person may also exhibit excessive, unwarranted displays of emotion. Depression is common in stroke patients; it affects a great number of those who have experienced one. Also common along with depression is a loss of or decrease in motivation. Someone might not want to carry out normal daily activities and would not feel “up to it.” Those who are close to the person who has experienced the damage may notice that the person no longer behaves like him or herself. This personality change is characteristic of damage to the frontal lobe and was exemplified in the case of Phineas Gage. The frontal lobe is the same part of the brain that is responsible for executive functions such as planning for the future, judgment, decision-making skills, attention span, and inhibition. These functions can decrease drastically in someone whose frontal lobe is damaged.

Consequences that are seen less frequently are also varied. Confabulation may be the most frequently indicated “less commoneffect. In the case of confabulation, someone gives false information while maintaining the belief that it is the truth; he or she cannot remember the accurate information. In a small number of patients, uncharacteristic cheerfulness can be noted. This effect is seen mostly in patients with lesions to the right frontal portion of the brain.

Another infrequent effect is that of reduplicative paramnesia, in which patients believe that the location in which they currently reside is a replica of one located somewhere else. Similarly, in those who experience Capgras syndrome after frontal lobe damage, believe that an identical “replacement” has taken the identity of a close friend, relative, or other person and is posing as that person. This last effect is seen mostly in schizophrenic patients who also have a neurological disorder in the frontal lobe.

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