But looking through the old medical records, he finally uncovered a death certificate for Louis Victor Leborgne, who was born in 1809 in Moret, France.
Domanski then used archival records to discover that Louis Leborgne was one of seven children of a teacher (his father) and his wife, and that his siblings were educated. He moved to Paris as a child.
Leborgne had apparently suffered epilepsy from childhood. But despite his seizures, he grew up to be a craftsman and a church keeper, and worked there until he was 30 years old, when he lost the ability to speak and was taken to the hospital. Epilepsy likely caused the damage that took away Leborgne's power of speech. (The 10 Greatest Mysteries of the Mind)
In the hospital, his condition worsened and he eventually became paralyzed and bedridden, and underwent surgery for gangrene. He was dying when Broca first encountered him.
The new discovery gives a very human identity to one of the medical textbooks' most famous cases, Lorch told LiveScience.
"Language, because it was viewed at that time in Europe as a God-given ability in humans, it was considered part of the soul and therefore not material," Lorch said. "This case was the case that really established the whole area of research on functional organization of the brain."
This article originally appeared on LiveScience.com.
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