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A History of The Brain

In this lecture, we will present a fascinating historical overview of our quest to understand the structure and function of the human brain. Starting with trephination and the Edwin Smith papyrus, we will look at how we came to think of the brain as the seat of mind and behaviour. We will consider achievements in understanding of neuroanatomy made by the likes of Rhazes during the Islamic Golden Age and the fusing of medieval Islamic medicine with Indian and Asian tradition. We will review the relative contributions of Descartes' Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, Andreas Vesalius and his De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libir Septem,  Harvey and The Divine Banquet of the Brayne, and Pratensis' De Cerebri Morbis to understanding of neuroanatomy and neurological disease. As we accelerate into 20th century science we will discuss how we came to learn about the nerve cells, synapses and electrical impulses that underpin the behaviours of many animals. In the final part of this talk, we examine recent developments in neuroscience, from new techniques in microscopy and genetics, to functional brain imaging, connectomics and computer-brain interfaces. The history of the brain is a wonderful, beautiful history of science, medicine, humanity and the desire to understand who and why we are. Prepare to be enthralled!

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