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History of Neuroscience

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A Historical Introduction

This introduction to neuroscience is unique in its emphasis on how we know what we know about the structure and function of the nervous system. What are the observations and experiments that have taught us about the brain and spinal cord?

Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany

Emil du Bois-Reymond is the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century. In his own time (1818–1896) du Bois-Reymond grew famous in his native Germany and beyond for his groundbreaking research in neuroscience and his provocative addresses on politics and culture. This biography by Gabriel Finkelstein draws on personal papers, published writings, and contemporary responses to tell the story of a major scientific figure.

On September 2, 1971, the chemist Paul Lauterbur had an idea that would change the practice of medical research. Considering recent research findings about the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) signals to detect tumors in tissue samples, Lauterbur realized that the information from NMR signals could be recovered in the form of images—and thus obtained noninvasively from a living subject. It was an unexpected epiphany: he was eating a hamburger at the time. Lauterbur rushed out to buy a notebook in which to work out his idea; he completed his notes a few days later.

This landmark volume, which remains influential today, is the result of an interdisciplinary, two-week international symposium on principles of sensory communication hosted by MIT in July 1959.

From Enlightenment to Neuroscience

Although Hermann von Helmholtz was one of most remarkable figures of nineteenth-century science, he is little known outside his native Germany. Helmholtz (1821-1894) made significant contributions to the study of vision and perception and was also influential in the painting, music, and literature of the time; one of his major works analyzed tone in music.

More Tales in the History of Neuroscience

Neuroscientist Charles Gross has been interested in the history of his field since his days as an undergraduate. A Hole in the Head is the second collection of essays in which he illuminates the study of the brain with fascinating episodes from the past. This volume’s tales range from the history of trepanation (drilling a hole in the skull) to neurosurgery as painted by Hieronymus Bosch to the discovery that bats navigate using echolocation.

The Birth of Microphysics

In the mid to late 1890s, J. J. Thomson and colleagues at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory conducted experiments on "cathode rays" (a form of radiation produced within evacuated glass vessels subjected to electric fields)—the results of which some historians later viewed as the "discovery" of the electron. This book is both a biography of the electron and a history of the microphysical world that it opened up.

Traditional Instruments and Techniques

It might surprise Western scientists to learn that there were periods in Korean history when the level of scientific achievement was the highest in Asia. This is the proposition that Dr. Sang-woon Jeon sets forth in the first comprehensive and systematic survey of Korean science to appear in any Western language. Dr. Jeon points up Korea's unique contributions to the history of science and technology as well as the country's role as a bridge between Japanese and Chinese science and civilization.

Thomas Bugge, Danish Astronomer Royal, spent six months in France in 1798-99 as his country's delegate to the International Commission on the Metric System, and while there he made a close study of the postrevolutionary scientific and cultural scene. Written up in the form of "letters," these observations were later published as Travels in the French Republic. The present work includes much of this material, some published in English for the first time, the rest unavailable except in a scarce English edition of 1801.

Theories of Spatial Perception from Kant to Helmholtz

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