phineas gage dissertation

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Phineas Gage is one of the earliest documented situations of severe brain harm. He is the index case of an individual who endured major personality changes following brain injury, which makes him a star in the life of neurology. Gage proved helpful as a honcho, chief, gaffer boss on a team that do railroad development and was excavating stones to make means for the train track. This particular job essential drilling holes deep into the boulders and filling associated with dynamite. This was done with a crow bar-like tool known as the tamping straightener.

On Sept 13th of 1848, the then 25 year old Gauge and his crew were working and as Gage was getting yourself ready for an surge compacting a bore with explosive powdered using a tamping iron a spark in the tamping straightener ignited the powder, leading to the flat iron to be powered at high-speed straight through Gage’s skull. (Word press, 2006) It is still unknown if Gage misplaced consciousness, but , remarkably, having been conscious and able to walk within minutes of the accident.

He was then simply transported by simply an oxcart about three-quarters of a mile to the boarding house in which he was remaining.

It was at this point he was dealt with a local doctor named Harlow, he cleaned out Gage’s wounds by taking away small pieces of bone, and changed some of the greater skull fragments that remained attached although had been displaced by the tamping iron. He then closed the bigger wound on top of Gage’s brain with cement adhesive straps, and covered the opening having a wet shrink. His injuries were not remedied surgically, yet were rather left available to drain in the dressings. (Word press, 2006) Harlow’s circumstance report might later seem as a notification to the publisher of the Boston Medical and Medical Journal, that was met with very much criticism when it was believed that nobody would have survived such an extreme harm. In a second report printed by Henry J. Bigelow in 1850, a mentor of surgery at Harvard University, this individual emphasized Gage’s lack of symptoms, and reported that Gage was quite recovered in faculties of body and mind.

As a result of disbelief which Harlow’s survey was attained, for the next 20 years, Bigelow’s accounts came to be generally accepted by the medical community. Gage did, according to Harlow, keep “full possession of his cause “after the accident, however his better half and other peoples that were near to him shortly began to take notice of the remarkable changes in his personality. (Word press, 2006) In 1868 Dr . John Harlow countered Bigelow’s promises when he published his most recent findings inside the Bulletin from the Massachusetts Medical Society. This individual stated that Gage might have loved full reasoning abilities nevertheless the people around him, particularly his better half noticed significant changes in his personality. Prior to the accident, Gage was diligent, responsible and “a wonderful favorite while using men.

His employers believed he was “the most efficient and capable foreman in their employ. After the incident the companies “considered the change in his mind and so marked that they could not provide him his place again. His friends also remarked that he was “no longer Gage (Suite 101, 2009). Destruction to Gage’s skull was said to occurred in 3 places: a gash beneath the left zygomatic arch or cheekbone; second, in the orbital bone at the rear of the eye and finally, in the top part of his head when the iron fly fishing rod went out of his head. The third wound was the greatest and it never cured. The damage to his frontal cortex acquired caused full loss of sociable inhibition, which usually consequently led to unacceptable behavior (Suite info, 2009). In place, the tamping iron experienced performed a frontal lobotomy on Gauge, but the specific nature in the damage incurred to his brain is a subject of debate from the time the car accident happened (Word press, 2006) In year 1994, Hannah Damasio and her colleagues on the University of Iowa applied neuroimaging techniques to reconstruct Gage’s skull.

The final outcome was that this individual incurred problems for both the left and right prefrontal cortices, but relating to computer generated three-dimensional reconstructions of a slim slice calculated tomography search within of Gage’s skull, destruction to his brain was limited to the left hemisphere. The case of Phineas Gauge made significant contributions to early modern day neurology, specifically once Harlow’s report of Gage’s individuality changes was published in 1868. It had been able to overlap with information from other neurologists of the associated with specific lesions on tendencies. (Word press, 2009) At any given time when the fatality throes of phrenology overlapped with the birthday of modern neuropsychology, Paul Barrena in 1865 described the speech center in the remaining hemisphere of right-handed persons; that mind region, inside the inferior frontal gyrus, is actually known as Broca’s area. Likewise in the 1860’s, John Hughlings-Jackson and David Ferrier performed physiological research which directed to the localization of cerebral function.

Knutson was the first to hypothesize those psychopathological conditions could possibly be correlated to brain damage as well as confirming Broca’s results that, in right-handed people, speech was localized into a specific part of the left provisional, provisory lobe. (Word press, 2006) In the case of Gauge, Ferrier affirmed that harm to the prefrontal cortex could cause personality improvements while leaving other neurological functions in one piece. His is actually one of the first which in turn provided evidence that the anterior cortex is involved in personality. Today the role from the frontal cortex in sociable cognition and executive function is relatively well-established.

Gage was unable to come back to his earlier job as a foreman and is said to include travelled around New England, and even to Europe, together with his tamping flat iron trying to make money. It was also said that he had displayed himself as a interest at Barnum’s Circus in New York. The story of Phineas Gage can be as much folk traditions as it is simple fact. Not only the exact nature in the neurological harm Gage endured, but likewise the details of his life after the incident, are questioned to this day. (Word press, 2006) Gage died in May of 1860, a few 13 years after his accident from complications resulting from epileptic turbulence.

An autopsy of his brain was never conducted and up before the time of his death it absolutely was known that he worked as a mentor driver in New Hampshire and Chile. When his health began to deteriorate this individual went to experience his mother until his death. In 1867, Gage’s body was exhumed from its burial place in San Francisco’s Lone Mountain Cemetery. His brother “in-law took the skull plus the tamping flat iron to Doctor Harlow, who had been then residing in Woburn, Massachusetts and is right now housed inside the Warren Physiological Museum in Harvard School School of Medicine.


Constandi, M. (2006). The Incredible Circumstance of Phineas Gage. Gathered from on October 8, 2012. Cuizon, G. (2009). The astonishing Case of Phineas Gage. Retrieved via about October almost eight, 2012.


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