The Return of Phineas Gage: Clues About the Brain from the Skull of a Famous Patient
When the landmark patient Phineas Gage died in 1861, no autopsy was performed, but his skull was later recovered. The brain lesion that caused the profound personality changes for which his case became famous has been presumed to have involved the left frontal region, but questions have been raised about the involvement of other regions and about the exact placement of the lesion within the vast frontal territory. Measurements from Gage's skull and modern neuroimaging techniques were used to reconstitute the accident and determine the probable location of the lesion. The damage involved both left and right prefrontal cortices in a pattern that, as confirmed by Gage's modern counterparts, causes a defect in rational decision making and the processing of emotion.