Learn the History of the Human Brain Research Before You Ever Attempt Therapy!

As a therapist it is your ethical obligation to understand your client's brain. Start here with a brief history of human brain research.

The History of Brain Research

By Dr. Michelle Stangline 

Before one begins to look at the history of brain research, one must realize that the field of Neuroscience is a relatively young one. The Society of Neuroscience, the professional association of neuroscientists, was only founded in 1970.

Today, it is one of the largest organizations of scientists in the world. It has 25,000 members worldwide. What is neuroscience? It is a program of study that includes neuranatomy, neuroimaging,neurophychopharmacology, neurophysiology, neurobiology, and neuroendocrinology. 

Neuroscience looks at the brain and how it is structured, how it looks, functions and how human behavior works. A neurologist must have training in physics, calculus, biology, genetics, physiology, molecular biology, psychology, chemistry and research and design (Purves et al., 2004).  

Neuroscience is one of the fastest growing fields of study today. It studies only the human brain and how other sciences relate to the human brain. The 1990’s were declared “The Decade of the Brain” by President George H. Bush. We learned more about the brain in the 1990’s decade than we have ever learned before.

First, the discovery of the C.A.T. scan, then the M.R.I., and now the Brain SPECT scan has propelled us even further in the area of brain research. This research paper will uncover the reasons why psychiatrists, counselors and psychologists, (M.H.P.’s ), are resistant to current neuroscientific research and findings of the brain and how it relates to mental health disorders. 

Before we look at the present resistance to brain technology in the field of mental health, we need to go back a few thousand years to circa 5100 B.C.. Here we will examine early man’s resistance to the brain. The earliest record of brain surgery known today dates back to 5100 B.C. in Ensisheim, France. A skull was found at an archeological dig at this site.

It had evidence of that some type of brain surgery had been performed on the skull. Brain surgery is perhaps one of the oldest medical arts in the world due to the findings of ancient surgical instruments found at archiological digs throughout the world.

Early effects of the poppy plant and the brain were found in Sumerian records as early as 4000 B.C.. In these records, an anonymous writer describes the euphoric mind-altering sensations brought about by ingesting the poppy plant (Brandt-Rauf, 1987).

It is suggested that brain surgery dates back to the Neolithic, late Stone period of man, possibly as early as the 7,000 B.C. period. Evidence of this is found in many cultures around the world from Pre-Incan to Africa  to Asia.

The word “brain” is first used in Africa with papyrus writings found in Egypt in 3,000 B.C.. Inordinate success of patients being restored to good health from “brain surgery” was noted in Paracas, Peru in 2,000 B.C. (Mangiardi, 2005).

Brain surgery was used mostly for magical and spiritual reasons. Priest, kings or noblemen were usually the surgeons. Tools for brain surgery were often made of bronze or volcanic rock. Surgery was thought to treat mental illness such as epilepsy, headaches, head injuries, ostemylitis, or organics diseases ( Mangiardi, 2005).

Trepanized skulls have been found at many archeological digs. The amount of skulls found at many sites indicate that brain surgery was common place  around 3,000 B.C..


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