Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Phineas Gage on the BBC!




I just read on the Neurophilosophy blog that the BBC 4 radio show Case Study will be airing a story tomorrow, at 11:00 AM British Summer Time, about the 19th century medical curiosity Phineas Gage.

The BBC website also includes a nice collection of links for those interested in learning more about Gage, as well as information about books, articles, and even a banjo song about the man. A synopsis of the case, and more about the program, from the website:

Phineas Gage was a railway worker in 19th century Vermont who survived a bizarre accident: A metre-long iron rod shot through his head, changing him and the study of neuroscience forever.

In the third programme Claudia visits Harvard Medical School Museum in Boston to see for herself what remains of The Man With The Hole In His Head. At the Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Ely, Cambridgeshire she meets clients with brain injuries similar to those suffered by Phineas Gage and discovers how far we've come in understanding and treatment since Gage suffered his appalling trauma on 13 September 1848.

A moment's distraction was Phineas' downfall. As foreman of the gang clearing rocks for the laying of the railway line near Cavendish, Vermont, he was responsible for setting the charge, drilling a hole in the rock and using an iron rod to tamp the explosive down before lighting the fuse. But this time the tamping iron struck the side of the hole, setting a spark which ignited the powder and sent the iron - over a metre long and 3 centimetres in diameter - up through his skull above the eye and out through the top of his head, landing 30 metres away. Unconscious for a few seconds, Gage then got up, rode an oxcart into town and lived for a further 12 years.

But he was no longer the hardworking, dependable and well-liked foreman. Now Gage swore and was shiftless, behaving inappropriately. For the first time here was evidence that the brain affects the way we behave; the scene was set for the mapping of the brain.

Thanks, Lance, for sending this my way!

3 comments:

Schreiber said...

more brain injuries:

http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2008/05/unusual_penetrating_brain_injuries.php

Don said...

Amazing story.I can't imagine him being the same again.
Wonderful blog, thank you.

bi0dr0ne said...

For an alternative view, and the one that makes the most sense see here: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/phineas-gage-evolution-of-a-lecture-room-psychopath/#more-6077