Phineas Gage – A brief story

Phineas Gage, a polite, thoughtful and well-respected rail worker became the first person to provide evidence that damage to the brain could affect our behaviour and personality.

Gage survived a freak accident (1848) when the iron rod he was using to compress dynamite into rock blew back. The rod entered just under his left eye, continuing through his frontal lobe and then landing over 30 feet behind him.

Gage made a miraculous recovery from the accident with very little effect on his mental and physical health. His behavior however, changed dramatically. He became rude, irresponsible and reckless, his friends remarked he was “no longer Gage”.

Damage to the connections between the frontal cortex and limbic system is in keeping with such behavior, as these pathways are now known to be involved in the regulation of our emotions.

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