Phineas Gage, a 25-year-old railroad construction worker in the United States, was injured by an iron bar that lodged in his head and came out the other side, partially severing his brain and skull.

Despite losing the left frontal lobe of his brain, the worker surprisingly survived for another 12 years. The healing process observed in the worker's brain completely changed experts' understanding of brain structure. Researchers reconstructed the details of the injury.

A model of the worker's face was created by 3D designer and forensic expert Cicero Moraes based on scans of Gage's skull.


On September 13, 1848, Gage had an accident while preparing to blast rocks during railroad track construction.

His foreman dropped the iron bar he was using to pack the gunpowder. The iron rod struck a rock, causing a spark that ignited the explosive.

Request for help from NASA in the search for the Loch Ness Monster! Request for help from NASA in the search for the Loch Ness Monster!

This caused the rod to fire like a harpoon, entering Gage's skull through his left cheek and exiting through the top of his head.

The rod, more than 91 centimeters long and 3.18 centimeters thick, went straight through his head and landed on his back.

According to reports, the worker was taken back to his hotel in an ox cart and climbed the stairs to his room without assistance.

Doctors removed 28 grams of brain fragments from his skull. The worker was back on his feet within a month after his head was bandaged.


Despite Gage's remarkable recovery, friends and colleagues said his personality had changed.

Known before the accident as a well-liked "most efficient and skilled foreman", he became less intelligent, less pleasant to be around and somewhat of a chatterbox.

The worker suddenly became disrespectful to his colleagues, unable to take criticism. Described by his coworkers as "extremely disrespectful", Gage was unable to continue working after the injury.

Instead, he became the center of circus attention, moving to Chile before returning to the US, where he died more than a decade later of an epileptic seizure thought to be linked to brain damage.

A century of research on Gage after the accident has focused on how brain damage can cause personality changes.

Everyone has a dominant frontal lobe in the brain that governs the ability to speak. In most people, this is the left frontal lobe, which was damaged in Gage's accident.

The case is considered one of the first examples in medical history of scientific evidence showing that brain damage can alter personality and emotions.