Who is Phineas Gage?

Who is Phineas Gage? What impact did he have on the realm of biological psychology?

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I really don’t think that the materialist’s dream will ever be fully realized. Human cognition will never be explained in wholly physical terms. I say this in reference to Mr. Gage because this is a perfect example. You can lesion an entire section of the brain and primary functionality is not impaired. I guess I agree with the functionalist, the gestalts, and even John Stuart Mills, in spirit. The sum of the parts of consciousness will never equal the total electrochemical functionality that occurs in the brain during cognition. In reference to biological psychology, the case of Mr. Gage rang the death nil of phrenology and the like. Even the understanding of localization and the idea of the bicameral brain were affected by the case of Mr. Gage. The question I have is: I get a headache just reading some of this stuff. The man had a rod blown through his head and he wasn’t even hurt permanently? The way that his personality changed does lend evidence to the idea of general localization in the brain. Even though there is not one section of the brain that performs only one task, certain sections are largely involved in certain tasks (i.e. visual perception, tactile perception, etc…).

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Goodwin, C. J. (2005). A history of modern psychology (2 nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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