History of neuroscience

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for History of neuroscience

16th Century mechanical artificial hand

This mechanical artificial hand, with fingers that could be moved individually by means of tiny internal cogs and levers, was designed and made almost 500 years ago by Ambroise Pare.

Exorcizing animal spirits

The ancient theory of ‘animal spirits’ (pneuma psychikon in Greek; spiritus animalis in Latin) was first proposed by Alexandrian physicians in the third century BCE. Animal spirits were thought to be weightless, invisible entities that flowed through the hollow nerves to mediate the functioning of the body. The animal spirits theory was related to the…

The idiot’s brain

This print shows the “brain of someone described as an idiot”. Published in the Journal of Mental Science, the illustration is by George Edward Shuttleworth, who was Superintendent of the Royal Albert Asylum in Lancaster, U. K., between the years 1870-1893. Shuttleworth’s drawing comes from a huge database of images released recently by the Wellcome…

The incredible case of Phineas Gage

PHINEAS GAGE (1823-1860) is one of the earliest documented cases of severe brain injury. Gage is the index case of an individual who suffered major personality changes after brain trauma. As such, he is a legend in the annals of neurology, which is largely based on the study of brain-damaged patients. Gage was foreman of…

The discovery of the neuron

For most of the nineteenth century, there was an on-going debate among researchers about the organization of the nervous system. One group of researchers, the so-called reticularists, believed that the nervous system consisted of a large network of tissue, or reticulum, formed by the fused processes of nerve cells. The other group, the neuronists, argued…