Identity of famous 19th-century brain discovered.
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. 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.