Discuss the localisation of function in the human brain


Localisation of function is the idea that certain functions have certain locations or areas within the brain. 

This idea is supported by recent neuroimaging studies. For example: Phineas Gage 1848, where an iron rod went through his skull and frontal lobe. They saw a change in his personality so therefore the frontal lobe is associated with personality. Each part of the brain is responsible for different tasks:

Motor area -> frontal lobe and is responsible for voluntary movements by sending signals to muscles in the body.

Somatosensory area -> parietal lobe and receives incoming sensory information from skin to produce sensations related to pressure, pain, temperature etc. 

Visual area -> Occipital lobe and receives and processes visual information. RHS = L.hemisphere. LHS = R.hemisphere.

Auditory area -> temporal lobe and responsible for analysing and processing accoustic information.

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Brain labelled

Image result for brain with lobes and cortex (http://oer2go.org/mods/en-boundless/figures.boundless-cdn.com/19550/large/figure-35-03-03.jpg)

Localization means that a particular function or process is taking place in a local region of the brain.

Lateralization means that a particular function or process is taking place in one or the other hemisphere.

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AO1 (b)

Broca's area -> Paul Broca treated a patient named Leborgne (a.k.a 'tan'). Tan could understand spoken language but unable to produce coherent words. Tan had a lesion in the left frontal lobe = Broca concluded this is responsible for speech production. Broca's aphasia.

Wernicke's area -> Wernicke found patients with lesions in wernicke's area and they were able to speak but unable to comprehend language. He found that in the left temporal lobe was involved in language processing/comprehension. Wernicke's aphasia. 

Image result for brain with broca and wernicke area

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1. One strength is it has support from animal studies -> Hubel and Wiesel (1963) sowed the eye of a kitten shut and analysed the brain's cortical responses. The area of the visual cortex associated with the shut eye can't idle but could process information from the open eye. This demonstrates how loss of function leads to compensatory activity in the brain.

2. One limitation is the relationship between age and plasticity is complex -> Plasticity reduces with age, brain has a greater propensity for reorganisation, childhood adapts to experiences and learning. Bezzola (2012), 40 years of golf changed neural representation of movement in participants aged 40-60. Neural plasticity continues throughout lifespan. 

3. Another limitation is neural plasticity may be related to cognitive reserve -> educational attainment may influence brain functionally adapts after injury. Schneider (2014) found more time speant in education increases the chances of a disability-free recovery. Which suggests cognitive reserve is a crucial factor in determining how well brain adapts after trauma. 

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