Landmark Clinical, Scientific, and Professional Contributions
Tan (also known as Monsieur Leborgne) was a famous patient of Paul Broca, who acquired his nickname because his speech was limited to “tan-tan” and the occasional blaspheme. His case provided the first widely publicized evidence of localization of cerebral function.
Tan, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in childhood, was admitted to the Bicêtre Hospital in the southern suburbs of Paris at the age of 31, after having been unable to speak for the preceding 2 or 3 months. The cause of his speech loss is unclear. Approximately 10 years after admission, he began to lose the ability to move his right arm, with paralysis ultimately spreading to his right leg. Tan was so nicknamed because he could only produce the repetitive syllable “tan” which he usually uttered twice in a row. He was able to vary the intonation. Tan also could swear, and was reported to exclaim “Sacré nom de Dieu” (Goddamn) when frustrated.
References and Readings
- Broca, P. (1861/1960). Remarques sur le siÒge de la faculté du langage articulé, suivies d’une observation d’aphémie (perte de la parole). Bulletins de la Société Anatomique (Paris), 6, 330–357, 398–407. In G. Von Bonin (Ed.), Some papers on the cerebral cortex. Translated as “Remarks on the seat of the faculty of articulate language followed by an observation of aphemia.” (pp. 49–72). Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
- Ryalls, J., & Lecours, A. R. (1996). Broca’s first two cases: From bumps on the head to cortical convolutions. In C. Code, C.-W. Wallesch, Y. Joanette, & A. R. Lecours (Eds.), Classic cases in neuropsychology (pp. 235–242). East Sussex: Psychology Press.Google Scholar