Conversation starters

Phineas Gage

The story Phineas Gage is a remarkable slice of neuroscience history. In 1848,  Gage was a successful railroad foreman in Vermont who endured an explosion that sent a tramping iron the size of a javelin through part of his skull and brain. After a long carriage ride into town (talk about workplace liabilities!), he managed to remain conscious enough to tell the physician, “Here’s business enough for you.” Indeed. 

It’s widely accepted that injuries to his frontal lobe changed him dramatically enough for the doctor to note that “Gage was no longer Gage.” Yet this article addresses revisions that suggest Gage might have recovered more fully than previously allowed.  

Here’s the in-depth account that appeared in Slate, written by Sam Kean in 2014.

Images of Gages skull and tamping iron via Slate and J.B.S. Jackson/A Descriptive Catalog of the Warren Anatomical Museum

And here’s another on the topic from Smithsonian Magazine, written by Steve Twomey.