On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life. Other victims in the annals of medicine are almost always referred to by initials or pseudonyms. Not Gage: His is the most famous name in neuroscience. How ironic, then, that we know so little else about the man—and that much of what we think we know, especially about his life unraveling after his accident, is probably bunk.—Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient by Sam Kean.
UCLA neuroscientists have reconstructed Phineas Gage's head injury and mapped out how his brain was affected by the tamping rod that went through it. You can read the full scientific article here. Phineas Gage has become one of the most famous cases in the history of science. A railroad worker who survived having an iron rod go through his brain with subsequent changes in personality. Malcolm McMillan of Deakin University, Australia, has the great Phineas Gage Information Page, which includes his story and a page on unanswered questions. [Phineas Gage previously on MeFi]
While many quirky news buffs may be aware of the story of Phineas Gage -- the Vermont railroad foreman who had a three foot iron rod penetrate his skull as the result of an explosion and lived to tell about it -- fewer know that the only known photograph of him was recently discovered. Fewer still know that the identification of that photograph happened via a Flickr comment. (no thanks to you LA Times, previously) [more inside]
I Feel, Therefore I Am. Consider the work of Dr. Antonio Damasio, humanist and neuroscientist, who has turned the Mind and Body debate between René Descartes and Benedictus de Spinoza upon its head--or at least the heads of Phineas Gage and one Elliott--via his research and writings such as The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Descartes' Error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain and Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. He's influenced writers like Ian McEwan and David Lodge, and via his thoughts on the perception of music, inspired a composition. (More Inside)