Monsieur Tan's brain

"In 1840, a wordless patient was admitted to the BicĂȘtre 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"1. This post-mortem examination of this brain was fundamental in leading Broca to his theory of cerebral localization of a language area (the Broca's area) involved in aphasia.

Currently, Monsieur Tan's brain is displayed in the Dupuytren Museum of Paris.

  • Photos by Rosa Longo (February 2012), courtesy of the Museum's direction

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