History of Cognitive Neuroscience

August 21, 2016


A brief History of Cognitive

Picture

Person/Period

Issue/Debate

Explanation

Egyptians
1700 bc

[Mind-Brain]

First written account of the "brain, " its anatomy, the meninges (covering of the brain) and CSF (Cerebrospinal fluid) on a payrus called the Edwin Smith Surgical papyrus. It may have been written by Imhotep (did anyone see the movie, "The Mummy?"). But they did not think much of this organ given that unlike the other organs, it was discarded, not preserved after death. Picture is Egyptian hieroglyph writing for "brain."

Plato
427-347 bc

Created near Athens the Academy, which was the most influential school in the ancient world. He taught there until his death, and Aristotle was his most famous student. He believed the brain was the seat of mental processes.

Aristotle
384-322 bc

Believed the mind was located in the heart, which contained all emotions and thinking. The brain was instead a radiator used to cool the heart. He experimented by dissecting animals (human dissection was forbidden).

Galen
130-200 ad

[Neural Communication]

Hailed as a great surgeon. Believed the brain receives sensory information and is responsible for motor control, using the mechanism of fluid energies. (Picture shows surgical procedures described by Galen.)

René Descartes
1596-1650

[Mind-Brain]
[Neural Communication]

Believed nerves contain fluids, or "animal spirits, " which are responsible for the flow of sensory and motor information in the body. He believed in the "Balloonist Theory" which asserted that little balloons expanding would cause motion. He was a dualist, believing that the mind and body are separate, communicating via the pineal gland.

Age of Enlightenment
1700's

From the beginning of the 18th century, known as the Age of Enlightenment, it was discovered that the nervous system is electrical in nature. The previous Ballonist Theory was disproved using the technique of water displacement. (Win a prize if you can guess whose picture that is!)

Johannes Müller
1801-1858

Doctrine of specific nerve energies. Different sensations are caused by different energies in nerves. Today we know this is not true, different receptors interpret the same action potentials.

Franz Joseph Gall
1758-1828

[Localist/Holist Debate]

Advocate of cerebral localization. One of the founders of

phrenology, but used it more as a spectacle than as a scientist. With Spurzheim, divided the brain in 35 separate functions, ranging from concrete concepts like language and color to abstract ones like hope or self-esteem. (Gall was jealous of a friend who was very good with language and memory. Because this friend had big bulging eyes, he though the brain was bigger behind it, hence those brain functions must be behind the eyes!)

Johann Spurzheim
1776-1832

Worked with Franz Gall in the study of brain injuries using

phrenology. He became the leading phrenologist in the world. Both he and Gall believed you could go a long way in determining...
Source: www.columbia.edu

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