“Landmark medical case”
The story of Phineas Gage illustrates some of the first medical knowledge gained on the relationship between personality and the functioning of the brain's frontal lobe. A well-liked and successful construction foreman, Phineas Gage was contracted to work on the bed preparation for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad in Cavendish, Vermont in late 1840’s. On the 13th of September 1848, while preparing the railroad bed, an accidental explosion of a charge he had set blew a 13-pound tamping iron straight through Gage’s head, landing many yards away. Gage never worked at the level of a foreman again. The undesirable changes in his personality ensured that the contractors who had previously employed him would never hire him again. After the accident Gage had several odd jobs: exhibiting himself at Barnum’s American Museum in New York, working in the livery stable of the Dartmouth Inn (Hanover, NH), and driving coaches in Chile. In 1859, after his health began to fail, Gage moved to San Francisco to live with his mother. In February 1860, he began to experience the epileptic seizures that would lead to his death on May 21, 1860. In 1867 Gage’s body was exhumed, and his skull, along with the tamping iron, was sent to Dr. Harlow, then in Woburn, Massachusetts. In 1868 Dr. Harlow authored a report on the Gage medical case, which appeared in the Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society (v. 2 (1868): 327-347). Harlow eventually donated the skull and tamping iron to the Warren Anatomical Museum, which already housed a plaster head cast of Gage taken by physician Henry Jacob Bigelow in 1850. The skull, life cast and tamping iron are currently on display in the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery at the Countway Library of Medicine.
We really wanted to see this but couldn't park anywhere (it's in downtown Boston) so we had to drive away sadly.
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Rod thru Phineas Gage's Head
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