February 18, 2013
On September 13, 1848, 25 year old Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman and his crew were working on building a railroad in Cavendish, Vermont. Gage was using a tamping iron to pack explosive powder into a hole during excavation operations. This is when a spark from the iron detonated the powder; causing an explosion and propelling the tamping iron through Gage’s skull. The iron entered Gage’s skull under his left eye, through the cheekbone and traveled upward fracturing bones and a considerable amount of brain; before exiting out the top of his skull (Twomey, 2010). The power from the blast shot the iron///////////////////////////////////////////++ rod with such force it came to rest some 30 feet away from the site (Costadi, 2006). Gage, who never lost consciousness, recovered well enough to begin to regain somewhat of a normal life. However, he suffered major changes to his personality and behavior, due to his traumatic brain injury. He could not stick to plans, used profanity, had cognitive and executive functioning conflicts, so much so, his friends and family said of him he was “no longer Gage”. For all intents and purposes, Gage basically was frontal lobotomized by his tragic accident. The brain damage caused his fitful and reckless behavior. Phineas Gage is one of neuroscience’s most famous brain injured patients, as such his case helps neurologists and psychologists in better understanding behavior and cognitive processes and awareness. Role of the Brain in Cognitive Functions
Cognition, quite simply, means thinking and is an active functional thought process. It is the act or process of knowing (Merriam-Webster Online, 2013). Cognition describes every mental process that involves knowing; memory, understanding, perception, and reasoning, to name a few. Our brain is capable of all of these , and many other cognitive and executive functions and a...