The Let's Play Archive

Second Sight

by My Name Is Kaz

Part 6: Madness

Critical care wards and mental hospitals can be a wealthy source of experimental subjects for Cognitive Neuroscience. A patient named Lebornge—dubbed "Tan" for his inability to vocalize any other word—led to a theory and eventual demonstration of Broca's area, a part of the brain involved in forming speech. Phineas Gage remains a figure of discussion, though his contribution to neuroscience was to survive a railroad spike through the head. Most famous neuroscience patients are known only by initials, both to protect their identities and add a layer of anonymity similar to a blind in studies: a way to tamp down bias in experimental observers. You couldn't help but think differently of a patient if the name was from your country, or shared your family name, or had your exact same name.