Essay on Localization of Brain Function

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Pages: 4

Localization of Brain Function
Psychologists have found that the brain often shows “localization of function”. This means that different parts of the brain carry out different tasks, for example, vision, voluntary movement and speech. The idea is that not all parts of the brain do the same thing, and that each part functions on its own, without the aid of other areas of the brain. This may seem obvious, but other organs, such as the liver, do not show localization of function; one part of the liver does the same thing as a part on the opposite side.
A famous example of brain localization is the case of Phineas Gage; a railway worker in 1848, who one day, while trying to blow out a hole in the side of a mountain, had a metal rod shoot
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An example of brain plasticity is the case of Cheryl Schiltz, a 39 year old woman who in 1997 developed an infection in her inner ear canal after a routine operation. The infection caused her to be prescribed gentamicin, an antibiotic that when over used, can cause damage to the cells in the inner ear. In Cheryl’s case, gentamicin destroyed her vestibulary system (the inner ear canals that allow us to tell up from down). Tests showed she had only 2% of her vestibulary function left, and as a result had severe issues with her balance. Her doctor found an bizarre way to treat her. He fitted her with a helmet fitted with motion sensors. These gave signals to a metal strip that was placed in her mouth. Now, as she tipped forward, she felt a tingle ripple to the tip of her tongue. As her head moved to the side, the tingle rolled sideways. After time, her brain learnt to turn the tingles into a sense of balance. Eventually she needed the helmet less and less. Her doctor, Dr Norman Doidge, came to the conclusion that her brain learned from the tiny signals left in her inner ear, and “recruited” other brain cells to help Cheryl balance. This case shows that the brain is capable of learning and adapting to certain injuries.
In conclusion, psychologists have found evidence to support the idea of Brain Localization; the idea of different areas of the brain having individual roles to perform, as well as evidence that may help