Sunday, November 23, 2014

Phineas Gage, Famous Frontal Lobe Patient, Neuroscience

Another truth stranger than fiction--

Phineas Gage neuroscience case: True story of famous frontal lobe patient is better than textbook accounts.: "....Modern neuroscientific knowledge makes the idea of Gage’s recovery all the more plausible. Neuroscientists once believed that brain lesions caused permanent deficits: Once lost, a faculty never returned. More and more, though, they recognize that the adult brain can relearn lost skills. This ability to change, called brain plasticity, remains somewhat mysterious, and it happens achingly slowly. But the bottom line is that the brain can recover lost functions in certain circumstances. In particular, Macmillan suggests that Gage’s highly regimented life in Chile aided his recovery. People with frontal-lobe damage often have trouble completing tasks, especially open-ended tasks, because they get distracted easily and have trouble planning. But in Chile Gage never had to plan his day: Prepping the coach involved the same steps every morning, and once he hit the road, he simply had to keep driving forward until it was time to turn around. This routine would have introduced structure into his life and kept him focused...."

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