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Minds Behind the BrainA history of the pioneers and their discoveries$
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Stanley Finger

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181821.001.0001

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Introduction: A Voyage Across Time

Introduction: A Voyage Across Time

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction: A Voyage Across Time
Source:
Minds Behind the Brain
Author(s):

Stanley Finger (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181821.003.0001

This book examines how Western ideas about the brain emerged and developed by focusing on discoveries in the fields of neurology, anatomy, and physiology. It shows that new ideas have sometimes split scientists into opposing camps, each looking at the world of the brain in a different way. One such division pits the “holists” against the “reductionists”. The former argues that the hemispheres of the brain function as an indivisible unit—as a whole. Looking upon this orientation as archaic, the reductionists envision the brain as a collection of highly specialized centers. Interestingly, Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the two brain scientists who shared the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, were flag bearers for these two different groups—Golgi for the holists and Cajal for the reductionists—even though both were histologists dependent upon the microscope. Other outstanding individuals who changed the course of thinking about the brain include Emanuel Swedenborg, Marc Dax, and Paul Broca.

Keywords:   brain, neurology, anatomy, physiology, holists, reductionists, Camillo Golgi, Emanuel Swedenborg, Paul Broca

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