The History of Brain Research in Early Renaissance Times |
The Beginnings of the Lobotomy and Neuroscience

In the year 1543, a Renaissance anatomist, Andreas Vesalius, publishes On the Workings of the Human Body. It contains illustrations on the workings of the brain and nerves. This is considered one of the first known neuroscience textbooks. 

He also discovered that the brains of many animals have the same ventricles as humans (Vesalius, 1543). He is followed by a French philosopher, Rene Descartes, who proposes that the brain functions like a machine. He viewed the mind as being separate from the brain (Descartes, 1649).

In 1664, a professor at Oxford, Thomas Willis, writes in his book about cerebral hemispheres and how they determined thought and action. Heintroduced the words “neurology, hemisphere, lobe and corpus straitum”. His work is influential to future neuroscientist to individualize brain parts (Willis, 1664).

Charles Darwin publishes his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872. He traces the origins of emotional responses and facial expressions in human beings and animals (Darwin, 2002).

Wilhelm Wunmdt begins to study human behavior in 1875 and calls this philosophy psychology. He suggests that this study should be considered a scientific discipline to anatomy and physiology. He creates an institute that is the model for many psychological laboratories throughout Europe (Rieber, 2001).

Sigmund Freud publishes his groundbreaking book named The Interpretation of Dreams. In this book Freud discussed the unconscious mind which drives human Behavior (Freud, 1976).

Other famous moments in brain history include Alfred Binet’s measurement of intelligence by use of sensory discrimination (Magendie, 1978). Also, Hermann Rorschach, a Swiss psychiatrists develops a test using ink blots to determined personality traits by use of open-ended questions (Exner, 1993). 

Phineas Gage, a railroad worker, survived a massive head trauma when an iron rod pierced his brain at the frontal lobe during an explosion. He recovered, but records show that he had extreme mood and behavior changes.

This was an important discovery for neuroscience as it suggested that major personality parts resided in the frontal lobe. The findings from the Phineas Gage study lead to the development of the lobotomy(Mangiardi & Kane). 

This is where removal of  brain portions from the mentally ill was thought to cure depression and mental illness. However, this was taken to extremes and gave brain surgery research a stigma from which it has yet to recover.   

    

Human Brain Research History of Ancient Rome, Asia, & Middle Ages


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