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Massachusetts, United States
I am a painter in search of an audience! Here are words to catch search engine hits: painting artist RISD New England Longmeadow Amherst Boston...more as I think of them. Check out my portfolio on a seperate website. The link is on the top of the righthand column

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phineas Gage & His Rod

This man, Phineas Gage, was 25 when he suffered the extreme head injury pictured above while rock clearing for a Vermont Railroad in 1848. While tapping down explosives into a drilled hole a spark caused an explosion that shot the tamping rod up through his eye, through the front temporal lobe of his brain and out the top of his skull. Mr Gage recovered after a few months; the future circumstances of his life would become the stuff of science and pseudo-science.

Because of very noticeable personality changes in Phineas he became an oft cited case study of cerebral localization. His personality became so different and so disagreeable that many close friends and relatives claimed he was not the same man. To this day he is studied because of these changes and used to prove many theories mostly to do with the frontal lobes of the brain and their importance in determining our personality, our very sense of our own being. Much of this lead to horrific clinical procedures like frontal lobotomies. The problem is that recent research shows just how little is and was known of the true history of Phineas' condition. It seems much of the information is related to a very narrow range of time just post-accident and that most accounts of his behavior are from secondary sources with no link to the facts of the case.

Though he did exhibit himself with Barnum's New York Museum and made visits on the lecture circuits it seems his behavior modified greatly and he was able to work again and live rather normally. There just does not seem to be enough primary information to justify the mass of analysis spent on this case over the past century and a half. He died twelve years after the accident. Read more here.

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