The contribution of Phineas Gage to the development of biopsychology cannot be underestimated. The accident that happened to him revealed crucial information on the influence of frontal context on high-order functions. In addition, the examination of his case prompted exploration on the brain function localization and contributed to elaborating the idea that different parts of the brain are responsible for different purposes. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to describe and discuss his accident, its results, and somatic marker theory.
Phineas Gage had his frontal lobe damaged to a severe extent due to brain injury, which resulted in his personality changing entirely. As his friends and relative described, he had been a hardworking and positive person before the happening, though after he became aggressive and rude, incapable of performing working duties (Chandler, 2016). On the basis of Phineas Gage’s accident and other cases, Antonio Damasio introduced the somatic marker theory (Xu, Xiang & Huang, 2020). He introduced a view that the brain is capable of accepting multiple signals at the same time, though the stronger one outweighs the weaker one in the end (Chandler, 2016). According to the hypothesis, emotions have a significant impact on the process of decision-making.
Furthermore, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC) appears to be influential in this context as well. The theory states that in case an individual is required to make a complex decision, firstly, before defining personal interests, he or she reviews probable short-term and long-term consequences. Whether they are ambiguous, feelings and emotions play a crucial role in elaborating the final solution. An ability of braking to adhere to the inner balance is also vital in this regard. In this context, VMPC is significant in responding to various somatic states. This way, Phineas Gage’s accident may present evidence for this theory.
The Iowa Gambling tasks, which implies the necessity to make the most advantageous decision pursuing the aim to gain money, presents the evidence for the somatic marker hypothesis. Firstly, healthy people show their emotions, and after then they adhere to the sufficient strategy. Only after these stages and several trials, they are capable of explaining their decisions. On the contrary, patients with emotional deficits demonstrate no sign of feelings and stick to a weak decision during the whole game, though they realize which deduction is the most beneficial (Chiu et al., 2018). Thus, it supports the theory described earlier and the thesis that emotions underlie advantageous decisions.
However, this theory is criticized by some researchers in the field of biopsychology and neuroscience. They say that this approach may not be successful in the context of influencing behavior (Poppa & Bechara, 2018). In addition, it is noted that receiving feedback from a body in an uncertain situation may lead to disadvantageous decision-making in some cases (Poppa & Bechara, 2018). Moreover, the theory requires more experiments in order to be explored properly.
In conclusion, some maker theory appears to be informative and revolutionary in the context of biopsychology and neuroscience. There is considerable evidence that is highly likely to support the hypothesis about the link between rational deductions and emotional reactions. However, in the context of present-day developments, it may not appear convincing enough, and the necessity of further exploration cannot be ignored in order to make it more reliable.
Chandler, C. (2016). Psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
Chiu, Y-C., Huang, J.-T., Duann, J. R., & Lin, C.-H. (2018). Editorial: Twenty years after the Iowa Gambling Task: Rationality, Emotion, and Decision-Making. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. Web.
Poppa, T. & Bechara, A. (2018). The somatic marker hypothesis: revisiting the role of the ‘body-loop’ in decision-making. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 19, 61-66. Web.
Xu, F., Xiang, P., & Huang, L. (2020). Bridging ecological rationality, embodied emotion, and neuroeconomics: Insights from the somatic marker hypothesis. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. Web.