Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works

Date:
March 3, 2009
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
An expert in cognitive and linguistic sciences has mapped parts of the brain that control abstract or concrete decision making by studying stroke patients.

The neuroscience of decision-making: By examining stroke victims, researchers determined that the brain’s frontal lobe controls decision-making, with abstract decisions made closer to the front and concrete decisions farther back.
Credit: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

A new study of stroke victims has produced evidence that the frontal lobe of the human brain controls decision-making along a continuum from abstract to concrete, from front to back.

Related Articles


Lead author David Badre, assistant professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences at Brown University since 2007, conducted the study at the University of California–Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow.

Abstract actions can be controlled at an abstract level, such as deciding to make a sandwich, or at more concrete and specific levels, such as choosing a sequence of movements that make the sandwich.

The scientific data supports preexisting theories that abstract decisions about action take place in the front of the frontal lobe, the back portion controls the capacity for concrete decisions, and the progression from front to back forms a gradient from abstract to concrete.

The study is among the first to show that specific areas of the frontal cortex are needed for different levels of abstract decision.

The finding, detailed March 1 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, represents a huge leap in comprehending how the brain supports higher level cognition and intelligent behavior. It could lead to advances in everything from the treatment of strokes to understanding how humans develop thought. “It is among the strongest evidence to date for a systemic organization of the frontal cortex,” Badre said.

The frontal cortex of brain has been long known to affect the internal control of behavior. It controls the capacity to plan, reason, conduct higher-level thinking and connect what we know about the world to how we behave.

Badre and his collaborators at Berkeley came to their conclusion by studying stroke victims who suffered damage to different parts of the frontal lobe. The patients all suffered a stroke at least six months prior to testing. All were screened with an MRI or CT scan to determine where any lesions existed in the brain post-stroke.

The scientists recruited 11 patients — seven men and four women, ranging from age 45 to 73. A 12th patient was recruited but could not perform any of the tests involved.

Researchers gave the patients four different tests that ultimately required selecting a finger-press response. For example, the first test would show a color such as red, which required an index finger push. Blue would trigger the middle finger. The test would then become more difficult by adding more alternate finger presses.

Patients faced greater challenges in selecting a response as subsequent, progressive tests became more complex, with more abstract options.

Badre and colleagues found that damage at a given location affected more abstract decisions but left intact the capacity for more concrete decisions. “If there is damage in a given spot, it will affect all higher (decision-making) functions but not lower functions,” Badre said.

The National Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration Research Service and a National Research Service Award supported the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Badre, Joshua Hoffman, Jeffrey W Cooney & Mark D'Esposito. Hierarchical cognitive control deficits following damage to the human frontal lobe. Nature Neuroscience, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2277

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115751.htm>.
Brown University. (2009, March 3). Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115751.htm
Brown University. "Evidence Appears To Show How And Where Brain's Frontal Lobe Works." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115751.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Airplane Seat Choice Says a Lot About You

Your Airplane Seat Choice Says a Lot About You

Buzz60 (Dec. 11, 2014) Are you an aisle or window seat person? Expedia and top psychologists say that choice says a lot about your personality. Sean Dowling (Seandowlingtv) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins