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Phineas Gage Paper

By:   •  June 4, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  767 Words (4 Pages)  •  4,388 Views

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Phineas Gage was a foreman working for the railroad in Vermont. In those days blasting holes was the normal procedure to gain access to lay the railroad down. Gage was using tamping powder to drill holes with a tamping iron. He would use the iron to pack the powder in holes and suddenly there was an explosion which led the tamping iron which was now protruding from left cheek and part of the brain and hanging out from his skull (Wagar, 2004). He had everyone one of his co-workers looking at him in amazement since he never lost consciousness. The Doctor that examined Gage was amazed as well and cleaned and bandages his wounds.

Phineas Gage was a well-mannered person, who enjoyed working before the accident, but afterwards a vicious viral infection had done the toll and recovery was long and hard. Gage was recovering well physically, but the infection had robbed him of sight in his left eye and decreased sensation on his left face. Gage did return to laying down tracks for the railroad but everyone who knew him saw he was a changed man.

Cognition Functions with Phineas Gage

Research shows based on the somatic-marker hypothesis in Phineas Gage’s situation, it allowed individuals to recognize that patients with frontal lobe impairment was indication that the brain’s areas for producing decisions are clearly linked to emotional centers. Somatic markers can help pinpoint where the cognition in decision rolls can be biased from looking at characteristics that lead to predictions and responses (Wagar, 2004). Gage had to understand that it would get better but for now it was what it was. Helping the somatic markers to be able to pass emotional responses was due to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, the Amygdala. All these regions of the brains are connected into helping relate memory for information. The nucleus accumbens is where the input and output are passed to other gateways throughout the brain (Macmillan, 2010).

The Accident of Phineas Gage

The accident left Phineas Gage a changed man but the lesion that was in his head only damaged the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex, this accident left a big void in his life meaning that he knew he was changed but could not grasp the reality that people saw through him. His behaviors were altered to an extent of being a young boy again. Phineas Gage had gotten the attention of American neurologist M. Allan Starr; he was a neurologist that was amazed by frontal lobe accidents. Starr had diagnosed Gage with more than impairments to his senses and muscles, but also felt he had altered disposition to mental capabilities (Kihlstrom, 2010). Gage was more excitable, anxious and then would retract in emotion. Some thought that was how he became a different man after the accident.


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