Monday, July 30, 2012

Phineas Gage: New Research, New Understanding

In 1848, Phineas Gage, while laying railroad track in Cavendish, sustained a massive brain injury when a tamping rod was blown through his head. The first well documented case of brain injury in the medical literature, the interest and research on his injuries and his life after the injury has not waned. In June, researchers published a new study estimating that Gage lost 4% of his cerebral cortex and more than 10% of his total white matter. The latter impact most likely explains the change in Gage’s personality after the accident, which his physician Dr. John Harlow described as “an affable 25-year-old to one that was fitful, irreverent and profane.”

On Sunday, August 12, the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) will host an afternoon program examining the new research and its impact on our understanding of Gage. The speaker will be Margo Caulfield, who is the coordinator of CHS and has worked in traumatic brain injury. This is a free program that will take place at the Museum at 2 pm on Route 131 in Cavendish. Weather permitting, a walking tour to the approximate place of Gage’s accident will follow the program.

For more information, call 802-226-7807 or e-mail

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