Effects of a Frontal Lobe Stroke

In the U.S. alone, 795,000 people suffer from the consequences of a stroke each year, according to the American Heart Association. A stroke is a brief blockage of the blood stream to a particular brain region or a brain hemorrhage. Strokes in the frontal lobe can have detrimental effects on personality, decision-making, language abilities and self-motoring.

Creative Language

The left inferior frontal gyrus is one of the most important brain regions for creative language performance. This area shows activity when healthy individuals perform stem completion tasks, for example, a task that requires completing the word stem "cou-." The area does not show activity in simpler language tasks such as word reading.

While patients with a stroke in this brain region initially fare poorly on creative language tasks, many of them recover in six to 12 months. Washington University neurologist Maurizio Corbetta and his team found that there are two mechanisms for recovery, according to a 2000 Science Daily report . When the entire left inferior frontal gyrus is wiped out, the corresponding right brain area takes over. When lesions are small, left-brain areas around the lesion begin to perform the functions of the damaged region.

Decision-making

Strokes that affect the prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobes can have a detrimental impact on decision-making, according to University of Southern California neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. The prefrontal cortex is intimately connected with what neuroscientists call "executive functions." These include choosing among several alternatives, comparing short-term and long-term benefits of an action, making moral judgments and controlling urges.

In his research, Damasio has focused on the effects of strokes and cancer in an area of the prefrontal cortex called "the ventromedial prefrontal cortex." Patients who have suffered severe damage to this area usually fare quite well on logic tests but are unable to make simple decisions.

In a 2009 interview in "Discover" magazine, Damasio says that he once asked a patient to pick one of two dates for his next appointment. For the next 30 minutes the patient went through all the possible pros and cons of picking one rather than the other date. Despite reasoning well, he was unable to decide and seemed relieved when Damasio finally made the choice for him.

Multitasking and Self-monitoring

A stroke in the right frontal region can affect a person's ability to self-monitor during multitasking, says University of Exeter neuroscientist Tim Hodgson. Hodgson and his team tested patients who had suffered a stroke to either the left or the right frontal lobe in a multitasking exercise, according to a 2007 Medical News Today report. Participants with right-brain damage failed to realize their mistakes in far more cases than those with left-brain damage. Hodgson points out that while people with a right frontal stroke may have fewer language difficulties than people with a left frontal stroke, they also tend to have a harder time performing everyday activities that require self-monitoring while multitasking, such as cooking.

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