The identity of a mysterious patient who helped scientists pinpoint the brain region responsible for language has been discovered, researchers report.
The new finding, detailed in the January issue of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, identifies the famous patient as Monsieur Louis Leborgne, a French craftsman who battled epilepsy his entire life.
Wordless Patient In 1840, a wordless patient was admitted to the Bicêtre Hospital outside Paris for aphasia, or an inability to speak. He was essentially just kept there, slowly deteriorating. It wasn't until 1861 that the man, who came to be known as Monsieur Leborgne, or "Tan," for his only spoken word, came to the famous physician Paul Broca's ward at the hospital.
Shortly after the meeting, Leborgne died, and Broca performed his autopsy. During the autopsy, Broca found a lesion in a region of the brain tucked back and up behind the eyes.
Paradigm Shift After doing a detailed examination, Broca concluded that Tan's aphasia was caused by damage to this region, and that the particular brain region controlled speech. That region of the brain was later renamed Broca's area in honor of the doctor. (See Photos of Broca's Brain)