Phineas Gage: Lessons on Brain, Personality, and Emotion

Categories: Brain

Why is the story of Phineas Gage considered so extraordinary? What does his story teach us about the brain? The injury that occurred to Phineas Gage is extraordinary because it completely changed his emotions and mental characteristics, and did not damage him severely physically.He lived from the accident, and was physically the same person, but after it, all of his personal characteristics changed, turning him into a completely different person. This proves that the part of his brain that was injured is the part that is responsible for controlling emotion, personality and reasoning.

2 (Optional) How did Gall and Penfield differ in their approach to studying brain function? Both scientists wanted to answer questions through their experiments, but Gall mostly used observations and data collection to retrieve his discoveries.

Penfield on the other hand, seemed to be a lot more interactive with his experiment, as he used live patients, and opened their skulls and performs stimulations on their brains. Penfield had to use live subjects and subject them to stimulations to make observations; this seemed more like an experiment.

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Gall used dissections and autopsies of brains as well as skull observations to make conclusions about his hypotheses.

(Optional) Scientists have used a drawing called a motor homunculus to show the connection between different body parts and areas of the brain. This drawing is a cartoon of the human body, where the bigger the body parts, the more area of the motor cortex that is dedicated to controlling them. If you were to draw this figure, what body parts do you think would be most exaggerated? Explain.

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The face, especially the mouth and tongue, and the hands. These body parts are exaggerated because they are directly correlated with the senses and they are responsible for expressing much of what the brain analyzes. The hands must feel, act upon many 3 (Optional) How did Broca and Wernicke determine the location of key language areas in the brain? They analyzed (autopsied) the brains of deceased subjects and compared similarities between the specimens to look for a link to the issues.

(Optional) Describe one method scientists are currently using to map the function of the human brain. Scientists are using MRI technology to scan brains with magnetic radiation signals that identify areas that are being used by the brain. MRI’s are connected to a screen that highlighted areas that are under use in the brain, different colors denote the intensity of the concentration of activity. The signals travel through the brain in layers to show a 2D model of an 3D brain.

New research is using functional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a scan of the brain that shows specific areas that are activated during certain tasks, as a lie detector test. Explain which area(s) of the brain you think might light up to show that you are telling a lie or telling the truth. Explain your reasoning. Most likely the frontal lobe, due to the fact that the frontal lobe is responsible for your emotions and reasoning as well as decision making. When you decide to lie, or when you analyze information to then give an answer, you use your frontal lobe to decipher how to react and what to say.

Explain the function of the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system is a system of nerves and networks of the brain that work to control general emotions, mood and instincts, like pleasure or anger, and initiates and drives feelings like care for children and hunger. 7 Return to the first paragraph of Activity 2.1.2: Build-A-Brain and re-read the description of your morning activities. Use your map to determine the part of the brain responsible for each of the actions, thoughts or emotions that occur in this paragraph. Either re-write the paragraph and add brain regions in () after each activity or simply list the actions and write the brain region next to it. Your alarm goes off and your arm flies up to hit the snooze button (frontal, temporal, pariential, motor cortex). You drag yourself out of bed and decide what to wear and what to have for breakfast (frontal).Your sister’s pancakes smell good so you grab a few bites while she’s not looking and head out the door (frontal, occipital, motor cortex). Running late (as usual), you sprint to catch your bus (frontal, motor cortex). You struggle to keep your balance as you head to the back of the already moving vehicle (cerebellum). A younger kid slams into your side with his book bag (pariential).

You are about to yell, but you figure it’s not worth it and grab a seat (frontal). You finish up the last of your math homework and turn on your iPod to clear your head (temporal, frontal). You have two tests and then a game after school (frontal, motor cortex). You think to yourself, “How am I going to get through the day?” (frontal) 8 Ten-year-old Alex Fuentes damaged his occipital lobe and his cerebellum in a car accident. Explain to his parents some of the possible effects of this injury. I am sorry to say that due to the accident that included your son, Alex is capable of having long term visual changes and effects in his balance and body coordination. It is possible that he could, in the worst case scenario, become blind as well as not be able to walk due to the fact that he does not have the balance capability.

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Phineas Gage: Lessons on Brain, Personality, and Emotion. (2016, Aug 23). Retrieved from

Phineas Gage: Lessons on Brain, Personality, and Emotion
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