Science's Most Famous Head Injury

Phineas Gage blasted an iron rod through his brain. He survived, but his personality did not. A new look at brain connections explains why. 

One fall day in 1848, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage was tamping blasting powder into a hole in the rock with an iron rod. The powder suddenly ignited, launching the tamping rod, more than three feet long and more than an inch thick, straight through his cheek and out the top of his head. A local physician named John Harlow arrived to find Gage drenched in blood but “perfectly conscious.” The tamping iron had rocketed through his skull—his crew found it 100 feet away, sm...

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