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Frontal Lobe Syndromes: Another person in the same body

January 10, 2010


What is Frontal Lobe?

What is a Syndrome?

Finally…Frontal Lobe Syndromes.

What is Frontal Lobe?

What makes us human…

Lobe: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin lobus, hull, pod, from Greek lobos, lobe, pod.

Any rounded projection forming part of a larger structure.

The brain’s largest part is the telencephalon (cerebrum in Latin).

Encephalon means “in the head”, and tele means  “distant” in ancient Greek (Television would be the distant image). It is the most superior part of the brain so it makes sense to have called it the distant part in the head. The brain lobes belong to the telencephalon, anything above the brainstem.

Cerebral hemispheres on both sides are made by the brain lobes. The lobes lie on the bones where they get their names from. The one which lies on the bone lying at the front side of the skull would be the frontal lobe.

Frontal lobe is responsible for the higher executive functions of the brain (judgement, reasoning, decision-making,etc.). They are also related to intellect, working memory, speech and personality.

Frontal lobe is the largest lobe in the brain.

Frontal lobe exists in the brains of mammals only.

Frontal lobe; especially more anterior part (the prefrontal cortex) is the CEO of the brain and the body.

Frontal lobe has different parts anatomically responsible for different functions.

Frontal lobe is the last part of the brain evolved.

The development of the frontal lobe finishes in a person in his/her 20s.

What is a Syndrome?

In medicine and psychology, the term syndrome refers to the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs (observed by a physician), symptoms (reported by the patient), phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one feature alerts the physician to the presence of the others. The term syndrome derives from its Greek roots and means literally “run together”, as the features do.

Frontal Lobe Syndromes

Some think this term is old and must not be used for the sake of integrity of the brain. Not necessarily function and anatomy should overlap all the time. Frontal lobe syndromes represent situations where the there is a damage, degeneration related to frontal lobes: a traumatic injury, a type of dementia, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, cerebrovascular disease etc.

So what can we see in a patient when the frontal lobe, a part of it per say, is injured:

1- Attention deficits

2- Disinhibition; social inappropriateness

We mammalians are social creatures and we owe this mostly to our frontal lobes: particularly the more anterior part -prefrontal cortex. We would not want to act socially inappropriate; thanks to our frontal lobes. Such as loosing your empathy…

3- Disorganization

4- Emotional lability

5- Apathy

6- Poor judgement and insight

(A screening test for all politicians in the world?)

One might see these (not all in one patient) and other symptoms basically depending on the site of the lesion in the frontal lobe and other factors.

Suggested readings

Frontal Lobe Syndromes

Frontal Lobe Syndromes: Treatment & Medication

Alberto J Espay, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Cincinnati ,Daniel H Jacobs, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, University of Central Florida College of Medicine

A power point presentation on Frontal Lobe Syndromes by   Katalin Gyömörey, Ph.D., M.D

Psychopathology of Frontal Lobe Syndromes

Michael H. Thimble, F.R.C.P., F.R.C. Psych
Seminars in Neurology
Volume 10, No. 3
September 1990

Case Report

Forgotten Frontal Lobe Syndrome or “Executive Dysfunction Syndrome”

Constantine G. Lyketsos, M.D., M.H.S., Adam Rosenblatt, M.D., and Peter Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

Psychosomatics 45:247-255, June 2004

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