God has said in the Quran about one of the evil unbelievers who forbade the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, from praying at the Kaaba:
“No! If he does not stop, We will take him by the naseyah (front of the head), a lying, sinful naseyah (front of the head)!” (Quran 96:15-16)
Why did the Quran describe the front of the head as being lying and sinful? Why didn’t the Quran say that the person was lying and sinful? What is the relationship between the front of the head and lying and sinfulness?
If we look into the skull at the front of the head, we will find the prefrontal area of the cerebrum (see figure below). What does physiology tell us about the function of this area? A book entitled Essentials of Anatomy & Physiology says about this area, “The motivation and the foresight to plan and initiate movements occur in the anterior portion of the frontal lobes, the prefrontal area. This is a region of association cortex...”
Also the book says, “In relation to its involvement in motivation, the prefrontal area is also thought to be the functional center for aggression....”
So, this area of the cerebrum is responsible for planning, motivating, and initiating good and sinful behavior and is responsible for the telling of lies and the speaking of truth. Thus, it is proper to describe the front of the head as lying and sinful when someone lies or commits a sin, as the Quran has said, “...A lying, sinful naseyah (front of the head)!”
Scientists have only discovered these functions of the prefrontal area in the last sixty years, according to Professor Keith L. Moore.
 Essentials of Anatomy & Physiology, Seeley and others, p. 211. Also see The Human Nervous System, Noback and others, pp. 410-411.
The holy Qur’an describes the front of the head being lying and sinful. Allah (SWT) says:
“a lying sinful nasiyah (front of the head).” (Quran 96: 16)
Since the front of the head does not speak, how can it be described as being lying? It does not commit sins. How is it then said to be sinful?
He said: “The function of the portion of the brain that lies in the font of the human head is to control the human behavior.”
I said: “I have found it.”
He said: “what have you found?”
I said: “The interpretation of the saying of Allah (SWT):
"a lying sinful nasiyah.”
He said: “Let me consult my books and references.”
After having done so, he, confirming what he had said, added: “When a person intends to tell a lie, the decision is made in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the front of the head. If he wants to commit a sin, the decision is made there, too.”
Then I discussed the subject with a number of specialized scholars, among whom was Keith L. Moore, who stated that the front of the head is responsible for judging and for directing human behavior. The working organs of the body (e.g. the limbs) are but tools to carry out the decision made in the front of the head. Therefore, the law in some states of the USA punishes major criminals that exhaust the police, by excising the front part of the brain (nasiyah), (for it is the center of control and guidance) whereupon the criminal becomes as mild as a child obeying the orders of anyone.
The Anatomical structure of the upper region of the forehead shows that it consists of one of the bones of the skull, called the fronted bone, which protects one of the lobes of the brain called the frontal lobe, which contains several neural centers in various locations and with various functions.
The prefrontal cortex constitutes the bulk of the frontal lobe of the brain, and its function is involved in the making of one’s personality. It is also considered as a superior center among the centers of concentration, thinking and memory. It plays a significant role in the person’s emotion and it is somehow concerned with initiative and discrimination.
The cortex is situated directly behind the forehead; it is hidden deep in the front of the head. Thus the prefrontal cortex directs some of the human behavior that reflects one’s personality, with respect to being truthful, lying, right, wrong…etc. It also distinguishes between these virtues and vices and urges one to take the initiative whether with good or evil intent.
In a joint research on the scientific miracle of nasiyah by Keith L. Moore and me, presented in an international conference held in Cairo in 1980, Keith L. Moore did not talk about the function of the frontal lobe of the human brain only, but talked about the function of the nasiyah in the brains of various animals. Demonstrating pictures of the fronted lobes of a number of animals, he said: “The comparative anatomical study of human and animal brains shows that the nasiyah has the same function: It is the center of control and guidance in both man and animals that have brains.
Nasiyah is the center of control and guidance in both man and animals that have brains.
Nasiyah is the center of control and guidance in both man and animals that have brains.
His saying drew my attention to the saying of Allah (SWT): “There is not a moving animal but He has the grasp of its nasiyah. Verily, my Lord is on a straight Path.” (Quran 11:56)
I also called to mind some of the traditions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), such as: “O Allah! I am your servant and the son of your servant and the son of your bondmaid, mynasiyah (front of the head) is in Your Hands…” and: “I seek refuge with you from the evil of everything whosenasiyah is in Your Grasp.” and: “Horses have goodness embedded in their nasiyahs, till the Day of Resurrection.”
From the meanings of these texts we can conclude that the nasiyah is the center of control and guidance of both human and animal behavior.
The linguistic meaning of the Verse and the sayings of the commentators
Allah (SWT) says: “Let him beware! If he does not stop, We will take him by thenasiyah (front of the head), a lying, sinfulnasiyah!” (96:15-16)
Al-Nasiyah: the front of the head.
The commentators’ sayings:
Most commentators have interpreted this Verse metaphorically, saying that describing the nasiyah being lying and sinful is not to be taken literally; the description is attributed to the owner of the nasiyah and not to the nasiyah itself. Other commentators such as al-Hafiz ibn Kathir left the Verse without comments.
From the sayings of the commentators (May Allah bestow His Mercy on them) we understand that they did not know that the nasiyah is the center of deciding to tell a lie or commit a sin; therefore, they interpreted the Verse metaphorically, while the text literally describes the nasiyah being lying and sinful. They attributed the description to the owner of the nasiyah although the grammatical structure of the utterance does not permit that; otherwise, the structure would have been the genitive construction that is completely different from the adjectival construction.
Other commentators did not comment on the Verse sparing themselves the involvement in something beyond their knowledge and the knowledge of their age.
The Aspects of the Scientific Miracle
Professor Keith L. Moore, illustrating this Scientific Miracle, says: “The information we now know about the function of the brain, was not mentioned throughout history, nor do we find anything about it in the medical books. Should we survey all the medical literature during the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and several centuries thereafter, we would find no mention of the function of the frontal lobe (nasiyah), or an explanation of it or a statement about it except in this Book (the Holy Qur’an), which indicates that such information is of the Knowledge of Allah, the Almighty, Who knows everything, and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.”
§ The function of the frontal lobe was known for the first time in 1842, when a railway worker in America was hit with a bar that pierced his forehead. That affected his behavior leaving the other functions of his body intact. Only then doctors came to know the function of the frontal lobe of the brain and its bearing on human behavior.
§ Doctors, up to then, had thought that this portion of the human brain was a mute region with no function. Who, then, informed Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that this portion of the brain (nasiyah) is the center of control and guidance in both people and animals and that it is the source of telling lies and committing sins?
§ Prominent commentators had to interpret the explicit text metaphorically because they did not know this secret, in order to safeguard the Qur’an from being accused of lying by people who were ignorant of this fact throughout the past centuries. The fact that the nasiyah is the center of control and guidance in both men and animals is clearly mentioned in Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of his Messenger (Peace be upon him).
Who, then, told Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in particular, of this secret and this fact?
It is the Divine Knowledge that no falsehood can approach from before or behind it. It is a witness from Allah that the Qur’an is from Him and was revealed with His Knowledge.
The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control center and home to our personality. There is no other part of the brain where lesions can cause such a wide variety of symptoms (Kolb & Wishaw, 1990). The frontal lobes are involved in motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. The frontal lobes are extremely vulnerable to injury due to their location at the front of the cranium, proximity to the sphenoid wing and their large size. MRI studies have shown that the frontal area is the most common region of injury following mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (Levin et al., 1987).
There are important asymmetrical differences in the frontal lobes. The left frontal lobe is involved in controlling language related movement, whereas the right frontal lobe plays a role in non-verbal abilities. Some researchers emphasize that this rule is not absolute and that with many people, both lobes are involved in nearly all behavior.
Disturbance of motor function is typically characterized by loss of fine movements and strength of the arms, hands and fingers (Kuypers, 1981). Complex chains of motor movement also seem to be controlled by the frontal lobes (Leonard et al., 1988). Patients with frontal lobe damage exhibit little spontaneous facial expression, which points to the role of the frontal lobes in facial expression (Kolb & Milner, 1981). Broca's Aphasia, or difficulty in speaking, has been associated with frontal damage by Brown (1972).
An interesting phenomenon of frontal lobe damage is the insignificant effect it can have on traditional IQ testing. Researchers believe that this may have to do with IQ tests typically assessing convergent rather than divergent thinking. Frontal lobe damage seems to have an impact on divergent thinking, or flexibility and problem solving ability. There is also evidence showing lingering interference with attention and memory even after good recovery from a TBI (Stuss et al., 1985).
Another area often associated with frontal damage is that of "behavioral sponteneity." Kolb & Milner (1981) found that individual with frontal damage displayed fewer spontaneous facial movements, spoke fewer words (left frontal lesions) or excessively (right frontal lesions).
One of the most common characteristics of frontal lobe damage is difficulty in interpreting feedback from the environment. Perseverating on a response (Milner, 1964), risk taking, and non-compliance with rules (Miller, 1985), and impaired associated learning (using external cues to help guide behavior) (Drewe, 1975) are a few examples of this type of deficit.
The frontal lobes are also thought to play a part in our spatial orientation, including our body's orientation in space (Semmes et al., 1963).
One of the most common effects of frontal damage can be a dramatic change in social behavior. A person's personality can undergo significant changes after an injury to the frontal lobes, especially when both lobes are involved. There are some differences in the left versus right frontal lobes in this area. Left frontal damage usually manifests as pseudodepression and right frontal damage as pseudopsychopathic (Blumer and Benson, 1975).
Sexual behavior can also be effected by frontal lesions. Orbital frontal damage can introduce abnormal sexual behavior, while dorolateral lesions may reduce sexual interest (Walker and Blummer, 1975).
Some common tests for frontal lobe function are: Wisconsin Card Sorting (response inhibition); Finger Tapping (motor skills); Token Test (language skills).
Study Pinpoints Region In Frontal Lobes As "Essence" Of What Makes Us Human
A new study has found the strongest evidence yet that what sets humans apart from other primates may be found in the brain's frontal lobes, particularly in an area the size of a "billiard ball" called the right prefrontal cortex.
Dr. Donald Stuss, one of the world's experts on the frontal lobes, led the study at The Rotman Research Institute, part of Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, and affiliated with the University of Toronto. The findings are published in the February 2001 issue of the international journal BRAIN and the subject of the lead editorial.
Understanding the mental processes of others -- mentalizing -- is the basis of our socialization and what makes us human. It gives rise to our capacity to feel empathy, sympathy, understand humor and when others are being ironic, sarcastic or even deceptive. It's a "theory of mind" that has been associated with the frontal lobes, but until now scientists have had difficulty demonstrating this ability to specific regions of the brain.
What is exciting about this study, according to Dr. Timothy Shallice of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, is that the Rotman study came at this challenge with two different testing methods and both generated similar compelling evidence to show that these higher cognitive functions in humans are "localizable" to a specific region within the frontal lobes. Dr. Shallice wrote the lead editorial in BRAIN.
Dr. Stuss and his research colleagues tested patients who had damage to various parts of the frontal lobes, and other areas of the brain as well. The selective impairment in only some patients provided the ability to precisely localize those regions that are necessary when specific mentalizing tasks are performed. Co-authors on the paper with Dr. Stuss, who is director of The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, were Dr. Gordon Gallup, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany; and Dr. Michael Alexander, Memory Disorders Research Centre at Boston University and Department of Neurology, Harvard University.
"In our study, we've shown that the frontal lobes were the most critical region for visual perspective taking, and the inferior medial prefrontal region, particularly for the right, for detecting deception," says Dr. Stuss. Visual perspective taking is the ability to empathize or identify with the experience of another person.
It has long been known that some patients with frontal lobe damage have significantly changed personalities. What is important about the study is that it helps families, friends and caregivers of the patient to appreciate and understand a very important reason why this occurs. This deficit in mentalizing can affect social cognition which is important in everyday human interactions. For example, patients with damage in the specific frontal area are often less empathetic and sympathetic, and they miss social cues which lead to inappropriate judgements.
In the study, 32 adults with lesions in frontal and non-frontal brain regions, most commonly as a result of stroke, and a control group of 14 healthy adults, underwent two seemingly very simple tests. Both tasks required participants to guess which coffee cup a ball was hidden under. Participants sat across a table from the experimenter and a table curtain was used on some occasions to conceal which cup the experimenter hid the ball under. The participant was asked to point to the correct cup.
In the first test -- visual perspective taking -- participants had to reflect on their own experience to understand and interpret the experience of others. For example, the participants either saw the ball being hidden under a particular cup with the curtain open, or were told that the ball was being hidden when the curtain was closed and they could not see anything. Then two assistants joined the task; one sat beside the experimenter, and one beside the participant. The table curtain was drawn this time, concealing which cup the ball was placed under. When the participant had to guess where the ball was hidden, the assistants 'helped' by moving beside the examiner and each pointed to a different cup. Participants needed to realize that one of the assistants had not been in a position to see where the ball was hidden (because they were sitting beside the participant who themselves could not see where the ball was hidden). Frontal lesion subjects had a much higher error rate on the task and it appeared that the 'right' frontal lobe was most critical. While the small number of right frontal subjects (4) makes this only a suggestion, it is still a striking finding, says Dr. Stuss.
In the second test on deception, an assistant sat at the table beside the experimenter and always pointed to a cup where the ball was NOT hidden. Participants had to infer that the assistant was trying to deceive them. Those with right inferior medial prefrontal damage had difficulty catching on to the ruse and were the most frequently deceived.
Frontal lobe function: www.neuroskills.com
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