Case Studies. Case Studies. What is a case study?. A case study is a detailed study of one individual or event.
What is a case study?
A case study is a detailed study of one individual or event.
Many different psychological techniques can be used (e.g., questionnaires, interviews, personality tests). The findings attempt to represent the individual’s thoughts, emotions, experiences and abilities.
The Case of Phineas Gage
In the year 1848, a terrible accident occurred.
[The tamping iron] entered the cranium, passing through the anterior left lobe of the cerebrum, and made its exit in the medial line, lacerating the longitudinal sinus, fracturing the parietal and frontal bones extensively, breaking up considerable portions of the brain, and protruding the globe of the left eye from its socket, by nearly half its diameter.
Phineas Gage lived for 12 years after the accident. He was able to speak normally, however, his personality changed massively after the accident. Whereas before he was well-liked, responsible, and hard-working, he now became restless, indecisive and swore a lot.
What does Phineas Gage’s case tell us about the brain?
In the 1970s, KF was in a motorcycle accident, resulting in brain damage to his left occipiatal lobe (pictured right).
STM was damaged (digit span of 1), but LTM was normal
He remembers words better if presented visually as opposed to auditorally.
What does KF’s case study tell psychologists about memory? Which model does it support?
Although his LTM is intact, his STM is not, which supports the Multi-Store Memory model.
However, he remembers words better if presented visually rather than auditorally, which supports the Working Memory Model.
“Right now, I’m wondering, have I done or said something amiss? You see, at this moment everything looks clear to me, but what happened just before? That’s what worries me. It’s like waking from a dream”. (Hilts, 1995)
HM’s brain compared to normal brain
In the 1940s, HM had a lobotomy performed on him to correct epileptic seizures.
After the surgery, HM was no longer able to form new long-term memories. For many years, he believed that he was 27 years old, and the year was 1953.
HM had kept his procedural memory (memory for skills) but not his episodic memory (memory of events). (Hilts, 1995) His body knew the way to the testing room, even though he didn’t!!
There are different long-term memory stores (procedural and episodic).
HM’s case also supports Peterson and Peterson’s study. His short term memory is about 20 seconds long.
This case study supports that of HM
Clive Wearing contracted a viral infection which damaged his hippocampus and surrounding areas
Wearing suffered from anterograde and retrograde amnesia. Known popularly as the “memento” syndrome
Like HM, his procedural memory is intact, and he is perpetually convinced he is just waking up from consciousness