Throughout neuroscience’s history, the localization of functions to specific parts of the brain has been one of the most contentious and widely investigated puzzles. Traces of the centuries-old Galenic placement of animal spirits in the ventricular cavities, thus assigning there the source of man’s intellect and mental functions, lasted into the seventeenth century, for reasons discussed in Chapter 1. The recognition that brain substance is the “material substrate of thought” had to emerge before real progress in localization could occur. As summarized elegantly in the translation of the historical monograph of Max Neuberger (1981), the localization of function first appeared in the Hippocratic writings, which assigned thought to the brain. In spite of the influence of Aristotle’s views (i.e., the mind resides in the heart), the Galenists, too, placed the soul in the brain and gradually transposed “soul” to intellect, or “anima rationalis.” Some 13 centuries elapsed before the great Italian Renaissance figures, Da Vinci and Vesalius, identified brain tissue, in contrast to the ventricular “cells,” as the site of thought. Localization of specific functions as a concept was envisioned by “the founding father of experimental brain physiology” (ibid., p. 8), Thomas Willis (see Chapter 4). A century later, during “Haller’s era” (1750–1770), belief in a more unitary substrate for thought was popular, to be superseded about 1830 by the ideas on localization of Gall and of Magendie. After it was established that convolutions are arranged in lobes with sulci between them, the roles of the separate eight lobes (four in each cerebral hemisphere) were gradually determined by observational and experimental studies.
KeywordsHuman Brain Frontal Lobe Parietal Lobe Occipital Lobe Occipital Cortex
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