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Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behavior

IB Psychology

Aswin Malhotra

on 7 March 2011

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Transcript of Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behavior

Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behavior

Aswin Malhotra
BETWEEN COGNITION AND PHYSIOLOGY IN TERMS OF PROSOPAGNOSIA, ONE MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND THAT Cognition is the physiological result of perception, learning, and reasoning. In other words, it is the procedure of processing information using individual's physiological features. The information being processed can be memory, association, concept formation, language, attention, perception, action, mental imagery, and many more.
Physiology is the internal mechanisms of living organisms - the way the organism works. Face Perception is a cognitive process It is a significant part of our lives as we are social creatures, hence, it is necessary to first identify each other, then go through the process of social intercourse. The human's face proportions and expressions are important to identify origin, emotional tendencies, social information, etc. It is a complex and perplexing process as it involves detailed understand of the brain's mechanism.  In this case, we are examining the interaction between prosopagnosia and physiology, in terms of behavior, in order to expose the underlying assumptions and interrelationships between both concepts. Prosopagnosia is a cognitive disorder, a neuro-functional basis of face recognition impairment. It is colloquially referred to as face blindness. It interacts directly with physiology because it is basically caused by when a particular part of the brain is damaged. This particular part of the brain refers to the fusiform face area (FFA) of the brain - the furiform gyrus. Gyrus is the rounded ridge on the outer layer of the brain. This illustrates the concept of localization of function in the brain as the FFA specializes in facial recognition, thus, a damage to it causes impairment in recognizing faces.  It is important to note that this specific condition is NOT caused from visual defects or intellectual disorders. It is a visual recognition impairment caused by damage to FFA. Thus, the voice of the other person is still preserved.  ○ Case studies relevant to prosopagnosia can be particularly useful for two reasons. 

§ Firstly, they can help us understand the location and the critical function of the brain areas involved in facial recognition. 

§ Secondly, the kind of visual cues that the patients can or cannot extract and remember on faces may help enhance our understanding of how normal people recognize faces, moreover, help us understand what kind of information processes are particularly important.  SUPPORTING STUDY 1 Caldara et all, 2005 ○ Conducted a case study of prosopagnosia. The patient is named PS.  ○ PS sustained brain damage in 1992 at the age of 41. She has recovered all neuropsychological functions but has a massive prosopagnosia.
○ PS is able to recognize and discriminate between visually similar objects, but she is not able to recognize faces. 
○ By presenting PS with little information on face pictures sampled randomly over hundreds of trials, they showed that she suffers from a deficit at extracting information at the level of the eyes of the faces, and mostly relied on the mouth. 
○ In a later study, they showed, using eye movement recordings, how PS fixates mainly on the mouth during identification of personally familiar faces, contrary to normal observers, who fixate on the center of the face slightly below the eyes. They believe that this loss of ability to extract diagnostic information at the level of the top part of the face, particularly in the eye region is a dominant aspect of prosopagnosia. Studies of other cases (GG, Busigny et al., 2010) support this view as well.  They believe that the reason why patients with prosopagnosia following different lesions present the same behavior, relying less on the eyes of faces than normal observers, is because of their inability to perceive faces holistically. This inability to perceive individual faces holistically can be shown through their absence or reduction of inversion effect, composite, and whole part effects. The rationale here is that the region of the eyes of the faces contain a lot of diagnostic information to individualize faces, but this information is distributed among many elements who have particular relations between them. Hence, the diagnosticity of this area would depend heavily on the integrity of holistic processing.  ○ At the behavioral level, their recent work of using gaze contingency method shows that acquired prosopagnosia is related to a feature-by-feature analysis of individual faces. Moreover, behaviors resulting from this include frustration and humiliation as she is unable to recognize their faces after the brain injury.
At NEURAL LEVEL, their fMRI studies of PS show that her main lesion in the right hemisphere destroyed part of the inferior occipital cortex, where preferential processing for faces is usually observed in neuroimaging studies of normal subjects. This appear to be the region that is most often damaged in cases of prosopagnosia. The studies on the neuro-functional basis of prosopagnosia provides clues about the reasons why PS' deficit is specific for that category: while her main lesion in the right hemisphere destroyed part of the inferior occipital cortex, the lesion spared the ventral and dorsal part of the occipital cortex, as well as parahippocampal areas, where recognition of non-face objects may take place.  Moreover, they have also learnt that the integrity of the right inferior occipital cortex (OFA) is necessary for normal face processing, but the OFA is not necessary for face-preferential responses in the FFA. This is the neuro-functional relationship between OFA and FFA.  ○ It must be kept into perspective though that the patients with this cognitive disorder are extremely rare, thus, a big sample size for such a case study is not very possible. The study is not longitudinal, nor is it cross-cultural. It's not clear whether other factors might contribute to this behavior, thus, it should be kept into perspective how this is a reductionist approach exposing the causes of this disorder in this particular example.  SUPPORTING STUDY 2 Joy, 2002 ○ Conducted a case study of LG, who is a child with developmental prosopagnosia. 
○ He was the product of normal pregnancy and delivery. However, his EEG, or the recording of electrical activity along the scalp by the firing of neurons in the brain, pattern was abnormal just after birth in both occipital lobes. 
○ Despite this, he had normal color vision and good literacy skills throughout his life and also had superior verbal intellect.  ○ The impairment faced was in the direction of real objects, objects such as photos were impaired when in their conventional and unusual forms. 
○ He also faced social problems, due to inability to recognize faces. Moreover, he also found it difficult to discriminate different genders and ages. He could identify features in isolation.
○ Surprisingly, in this case study, he was naturally resolving his deficits. The concept of neuroplasticity, of the brain being able to remap itself slowly healed him. 
○ The result is still yet inconclusive whether our neuroplasticity is powerful enough to heal this cognitive disorder. It is the fight between physiology and neuroplasticity, which is another factor that should be kept into perspective. However, similarly, in this case study, it can be seen how the abnormality in both occipital lobes lead to prosopagnosia. Moreover, the social effects that LG has with the others can also be seen. 
○ Like the previous study, this study highlights the interaction between cognition and physiology as it establishes the link by illustrating the effect of when one is damaged on the other in terms of the LG's behavior as his social interactions become affected in terms of this particular cognitive disorder of prosopagnosia. 
Again, for both studies, it should be kept into consideration how the results cannot be used to generalize for all the patients with prosopagnosia, as the damage to the furiform gyrus can have different effects on different patients due to the variabiliy of neuroplasticity.  INTRODUCTORY VIDEO
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