Lesions of the Prefrontal Cortex

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Lesions of the Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a wide variety of

functions. It is known as the area of the brain which has

“executive control”, taking input from other areas of the brain

and combining and applying those functions (Kalat 2004).

Lesions to the prefrontal area can greatly impair overt behavior

of an inflicted individual. These deficits are dependent upon

the severity of the lesion and the specific region of the

prefrontal cortex in which the lesion resides (ventrolateral,

dorsolateral, orbitofrontal, and anterior prefrontal)(Eslinger


Individuals with prefrontal lesions usually display

emotional, social and moral deficits (Elinger 2003). Social

learning is impaired and adaptive learning does not appear to

extend beyond avoidance of punishment in most cases(Anderson

1999). Personality is marked by poor judgment, minimal insight

into/slight anticipation of consequence, a desire for autonomy

but a lack of self- initiation, lack of sense of competency,

lack of identity, a lack of relationship between self and others

and self and environment, and a deficit in motivation and goal

directed behavior(Eslinger 2003). Most cases do not appear to

experience anxiety or fear. These persons tend to be

egocentric, easily irritated, impatient, and display “shallow”

emotions(Trauner 2001). They cannot harness their emotions to

use in an adaptive manner regarding learning from experience,

and developing and maintaining relationships. Empathy, moral

decision making and comprehension are usually erratically rule-

based and self-serving. There is an inability to demonstrate

perspective taking and limited to no perception...

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Eslinger, Paul J., Flaherty-Craig, Claire V., Benton, Arthur

L. (2004). Developmental outcomes after early prefrontal

cortex damage. Brain and Cognition, 55, 84- 103.

Kalat, James W. (2004) Biological Psychology. Ontario, Canada:


Lawson, C. “Social Skills and School” May 3,


Mah, Linda, Arnold, Miriam C., Grafman, Jordan. Impairment of

social perception associated with lesions of the prefrontal

cortex. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1247-1255.

Thimble, Michael.H. (1990). Psychopathology of frontal lobe

syndromes. Seminars in Neurology, 10(3).

Trauner, Doris A., Nass R., Ballantyne A.(2001) Behavioural

profiles of children and adolescents after pre- or perinatal

unilateral brain damage. Brain, Vol. 124(5), 995-1002.
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