Photograph collectors in Maryland have discovered what appears to be the only known photograph of Phineas Gage. Gage is a legend in neuroscience and psychology. Here's why (from the Boston Daily Courier, September 20th, 1848):
Horrible Accident. Phineas P. Gage, a foreman on the Rutland Railroad at Cavendish, Vt., was preparing for a blast on Wednesday last, when the powder exploded, carrying through his head an iron instrument, an inch and a fourth in circumference, and three feet and eight inches in length. The iron entered on the side of his face, shattering the upper jaw, and passing back of the left eye, and out the top of his head. Singularly enough, he was alive at two o'clock the next afternoon, in full possession of his reason, and free from pain (Macmillan, 1986, p. 77).
In many ways, the story of Phineas Gage has grown into a myth, and the legend surrounding Gage's condition probably began with the newspaper article above. There is still a pervasive view that Gage recovered fully from his injuries in a very short period of time. While it was amazing that Gage survived having a tamping iron travel through his brain, by no means was he ever the same person following the accident. For more information on Phineas Gage, I suggest you track down two great articles penned by Malcolm Macmillan at the University of Melbourne:
- Macmillan, M. B. (1986). A wonderful journey through skull and brains: The travels of Mr. Gage's tamping iron. Brain and Cognition, 5, 67-107.
- Macmillan, M. (2008). Phineas Gage - Unravelling the myth. The Psychologist, 21, 828-831. (link)
h|t BPS Research Digest