The BPS Research Digest has the surprising news that a photo of Phineas Gage has been discovered. He became one of the most famous case studies in neuroscience when he had a large iron rod blown through his frontal lobes in in 1848.
He survived but his frontal lobe damage meant “Gage was no longer Gage”, at least according to his attending doctor, giving us some of the first clues that damage to specific brain areas could cause changes in personality.
The photo may well show Gage in his later years as he
toured the country with PT Barnum’s circus appeared at PT Barnum’s New York museum as one of the star attractions, always with the tamping iron on hand to amaze the crowds.
In the tradition of media circuses, the collectors have taken the long out-of-copyright photo, put a dirty great copyright sign across the front and are charging ‘usage fees’ for the undefaced version.
Phineas Gage may be dead, but the spirit of Barnum, it seems, lives on.