Phineas Gage and the Language
Center of the Brain
Emilie and Lindsey
• Born in 1823
• Foreman of a railroad construction company
near Cavendish Vermont
• Most capable, efficient, well-balanced mind,
shrewd, smart businessman
• Known for survival of serious brain damage
The Accident
• September 13, 1848
• Accidental explosion of a charge he had set
• Blew tamping iron through his head
-Under left cheek bone and out through
top of head
-Landed 25-30 yards behind him
-Spoke within minutes
-Walked with little assistance
Long and difficult
Pressure on brain left him semi-comatose
Seldom spoke (only mono syllables)
Died 12 years after accident (May 23, 1860)
after suffering from epileptic seizures
Brain Damage
• Left frontal lobe completely destroyed
• Personality changes: impatient, obstinate,
profane, unable to settle on plans devised for
future, fitful
Functions of Frontal Lobe
• Contains most of the dopamine sensitive
neurons in the cerebral cortex
• Associated with reward, attention, long term
memory, planning, drive, impulse control,
social behavior
• Ability to recognize future consequences
resulting from current actions; choice
between good and bad
• Involved with higher mental functions
Language Center of Brain
• Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s Area
• Linked to speech production and language
• Spoken words sent to Wernicke Area where
structure of signal is compared with memory
of the word to understand meaning
Language as a Way of Knowing
• Whole section of the brain devoted to language
and the brain is where we understand knowledge
• Similar to Saussure Views:
• Signifier doesn’t mean anything by itself so the
brain automatically associates it with its meaning
• Saussare “All signs arbitrary, and all signs have
only arbitrarily ascribed or assigned meanings.
Each society, through its language, gives meaning
to its signs through combining sound-images
(signifiers) with concepts (what is signified).”

TOK phineas gage lindsey emilie