Dementia, brain function and behaviour

An interesting fact about the history of dementia is the story of Phineas Gage. Phineas Gage was a railroad construction foreman in the mid-19th century who survived a severe brain injury that dramatically changed his behaviour and personality.  His story provides valuable insights into the history of dementia, particularly the connection between brain function and behaviour. 

In 1848, Gage was involved in a blasting accident, during which a large iron rod was driven through his left frontal lobe, destroying much of it. Remarkably, Gage survived the accident, but his friends and family noticed a significant shift in his personality and behaviour. He went from being a responsible, well-mannered individual to becoming impulsive, profane, and socially inappropriate.

Gage’s case was one of the earliest documented instances of a direct link between brain damage and changes in behaviour. His experience provided crucial evidence supporting the idea that specific areas of the brain are associated with certain functions and behaviours.

His case played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of brain localisation and laid the groundwork for later studies in neurology and neuropsychology.