The curious case of Phineas Gage……

For a short time Phineas may have been unconscious. His gang carried him to a nearby ox-cart where, sitting against its head board, he was driven to the Cavendish inn where he lived. He alighted unaided. Then from a chair on the ‘piazza’ he told his story to the bystanders. He greeted Edward Higginson Williams, the first medical practitioner to arrive, with ‘Doctor, here is business enough for you’.

Malcolm Macmillan – Phineas Gage; Unravelling the myth

phineas_gage_35quot_buttonA 25 year old Phineas Gage is a name synonymous with biological explanations to criminal behaviour. Reportedly a mild mannered individual who after having a significant brain injury from a tampering iron transformed him in terms of his behaviour and personality, giving rise to a new way of thinking regarding the relationship between brain and behaviour.

Pertinaciously obstinate, capricious, and vacillating’ about his plans for the future – ‘no sooner arranged than they are abandoned’

Harlow 1848

But how accurate are the stories of this seemingly Jekyll and Hyde case….?  An article published be the British Psychological Society via  Malcolm Macmillan is Professorial Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Melbourne is attempting to put the record straight.  Click on the picture to read about this fascinating case.

Find out here what the textbooks don’t tell you about Phineas Gage!

 

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Freewill Vs Determinism; irrational decision making…..how a warm drink can manipulate your thoughts and other priming influences.

In the previous post, a link was created to provide some information on the cognitive bias- how are thoughts tend to be irrational and not based upon cost/benefit analysis as some cognitive models hypothesise. How rational are humans? To what extent do we choose our destiny or more importantly to what extent can our behaviour be influenced  by unconscious ‘nudges’, that makes it seem like we chose something when in fact we didn’t – how do you even measure such an effect? Showmen like Derren Brown use this grey area to provide simple but high impact effects such as priming.

The following BBC documentary shows how the science of decision-making shows us free will is something more scarce than most of us think.