PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Penn State Neuroscience Student Explains Hodor’s Condition

Hodor. Anyone who watches “Game of Thrones” recognizes that as the name of a popular character on the show, a large oaf of a man that carries a child across Westeros. Fans also recognize that as the sole word Hodor can say on the show. A Penn State neuroscience student explained the neurological condition that afflicts Hodor in an article for The Conversation.

Jordan Gaines Lewis, a Ph.D student at the Penn State College of Medicine, studying neuroscience recently wrote an article breaking down Hodor’s mental condition, which limits him to just one word. Lewis said that Hodor suffers from expressive aphasia, a loss of the ability to produce language.

Lewis cited Paul Broca, a French physician who performed an autopsy on a man named Louis-Victor Leborgne. Much like Hodor, Leborgne could speak just one word: tan. Similar to Hodor, that one word became Leborgne’s nickname.

“Broca’s autopsy determined tissue damage, or a ‘lesion’, in the frontal lobe of Leborgne’s left brain hemisphere, just next to a brain fold called the lateral sulcus,” Lewis said. “Over the next two years, Broca acquired brains from 12 more patients with Leborgne’s symptoms — all of the autopsy evidence was strikingly consistent.”

That autopsy evidence showed lesions located in a small area of the brain now known as “Broca’s area.” Lewis said the region of the brain is active during language comprehension tasks, interpretation of movement, and comprehending gestures of speech like a wave. In 2007, a group of researchers at the University of California looked at Lebrogne’s brain again, along with the brain of a similar patient, using an MRI. They found lesions extending deeper than Broca reported.

“This evidence of widespread damage is unsurprising. Leborgne, Lelong — and even Hodor — are actually more extreme examples of individuals with expressive aphasia,” Lewis said. “More commonly, a person with the disorder will express themselves in ‘telegraphic speech’, which usually comprises three or so words, including a noun and a verb. For example, someone may say, ‘Anne, dog, walk’ to mean ‘I walked the dog with Anne today.'”

Lewis said that expressive aphasia is most commonly caused by a stroke. She added that expressive aphasia affects 12 percent of stroke patients, while 35 percent of stroke sufferers experience some sort of language difficulty. According to Lewis, the neurological condition can also be caused by a tumor, hemorrhage, hematoma, or trauma.

“It has been reported that Leborgne suffered from epileptic seizures as a child — some have speculated that he may have experienced head trauma during one such episode,” Lewis said.

She points out that Hodor’s life isn’t well-documented in the book series by George R.R. Martin, but “like the other characters in the show, Hodor too may have a quite an interesting backstory.”

If you’re in State College on Wednesday night, you can ask Kristian Nairn, the actor who plays Hodor, yourself. Nairn is in the middle of a DJ tour, playing electronic music around the world for his “Rave of Thrones” show. Hodor will play at Levels tonight, so perhaps Lewis will have the chance to ask Nairn about his character’s mysterious case of expressive aphasia.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

Comments

More by Zach

Penn Stater Named To Olympic Committee’s Centre for Safe Sport’s Inaugural Board

The Center for Safe Sport was recently created to tackle the issue of protecting America’s athletes. Penn State will be represented on the inaugural board by chief ethics and compliance officer Regis Becker.

A Valentine’s Day Trio Of Penn State Love Stories

Penn State To Celebrate 161st Birthday Next Week

Athletics

Incoming Penn State Track & Field Athlete Kristian Marche Shot To Death In Philadelphia

The incident surrounding Marche’s death is “under investigation,” according to the Philadelphia police department.

Former Women’s Gymnastics Coach Files Lawsuit Against Penn State Over Handling Of Abuse Allegations

Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship

Penn State Hockey’s Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie Participate In World Junior Summer Showcase

Ally McHugh Wins 400 Medley National Championship

Student Life

Nike Releases New Penn State Sneakers

This year’s sneaker is available to purchase online for $109.99.

Penn State Parking Office Runs Into Student Permit Purchase Issues

Girirajan Lab Seeks To Bridge The Gap Between Fly And Human Genomes

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

Fall Move-In Traffic & Construction Changes

When 40,000 students need to move back to State College over the course of four days or so, things are bound to get crazy.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Assessing Penn State’s Front Seven Following Tuesday’s Medical Retirements

Penn State’s defensive line rotation will be shaken up following Ryan Buchholz’s medical retirement from football, while the coaching staff is letting the linebackers duel it out during camp.

Send this to a friend