In 1848, Phineas Gage was a railroad worker tasked with the removal of debris and the clearing of land for the purpose of building railroads. During a work accident, which involved a premature explosion, Gage’s skull was punctured by a tampering iron. The Iron punctured an area near his left cheek and passed through his left frontal lobe. In the process, the iron managed to puncture an area of Gage’s left prefrontal cortex. Instead of dying, Gage awoke, remained conscious and coherent, and survived the incident for another 12 years (Garcia-Molina, 2012). According to the studies, Gage suffered a period of behavior issues, a loss of understanding of social norms, loss of vision in one eye, and temporarily lost some physical functionality (Garcia-Molina, 2012). Gage died and his behavioral issues were disclosed, neuroscientists were perplexed that the only process or function that had been affected by the accident was his behavior. This seemingly led researchers to investigate how this could be. This research has shed light on Gage’s behavioral issues because of the knowledge now available that some regions of the prefrontal cortex can lend to behavior changes (García-Molina, 2012). Leading up to the 1800’s many believed that the prefrontal cortex was just a protective surface of the brain with no real impact on mental functionality (Garcia-Molina, 2012). More things modern neuroscientists can learn from this include the role of gray matter and white matter, network integration, connectivity, and how these things impact a person’s functioning. In summary, research reported by Garcia- Molina (2012) shows that gray matter and white matter damage as well as impacted network connectedness between different parts of the brain was likely in Gage’s case and are contributors to long-term behavioral changes.
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