Photograph by Jack Wilgus of a daguerreotype of Phineas Gage in the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus.
Thanks to painstaking historical analysis of primary sources (by Malcolm Macmillan and Matthew Lena) – much of it published between 2000 and 2010 – and the discovery during the same time period of new photographic evidence of post-accident Gage (see image, right), it is now believed that Gage made a remarkable recovery from his terrible injuries. He ultimately emigrated to Chile where he worked as a horse-coach driver, controlling six horses at once and dealing politely with non-English speaking passengers. The latest simulations of his injury help explain his rehabilitation – it’s thought the iron rod passed through his left frontal lobe only, leaving his right lobe fully intact.
Read more at BPS Research Digest.
Len Turner, Dave Schmelick and Deirdre Hammer/Johns Hopkins University Office of Communications
We’re born knowing certain rules of the world, but what happens when those rules appear to be broken? A new study in the journal Science explores the power of surprise to motivate infant learning.
Read more at NPR.org.
The folks at Backyard Brains have developed a device called RoboRoach that lets you control the movement of a cockroach with your iPhone! With the RoboRoach you can control a single insect, but what if you had control of an entire swarm? One researcher is trying to develop such technology to aid in search-and-rescue missions. Read more at NPR’s coverage: What’s Creepy, Crawly And a Champion of Neuroscience?
Using fMRI, scientists have located a part of the brain – just above each of the ears – that responds to quantities. It allows us to look at objects and quickly tell how many there are. This ability maxs out at five objects for most people, but anything less than that and we can quickly tell how many objects there are without even counting thanks to this region of the brain. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Scientists Put a ‘Sixth Sense’ for Numbers on Brain Map
Researcher Andrea Stocco sits ready to receive brain signals from his collaborator. Source: R.P.N. Rao and A. Stocco.
NPR – Don’t Call It A Mind-Meld: Human Brains Connect Via Internet. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), researchers were able to have one person’s thoughts control another person’s actions. In this case, the subjects (who were also the researchers) were only playing a video game and pressing a button to fire, but still – very cool!