Facts On The Human Brain – Let’s Start With A Little History
Before we get to the facts on the human brain, let’s start with a little history. The human brain is an incredibly complex organ. Even though day by day we are unraveling new secrets, our journey to a full understanding of the brain’s function is still not complete. The first footsteps of that journey begin with the ancients.
The ancient Greeks and Egyptians (about 400BC) understood that the brain was the command and control organ. Hippocrates (right) recognized that the brain played a part in sensation and intelligence. A few decades later (387 BC) Plato teaches in Athens that the brain is where our mental processes take place.
However, there are competing theories that suggest the heart is the center of thought, Aristotle (335 BC) declares that the heart, not the brain, is where the action is. In fact, this ancient belief becomes so popular and well-received that it spawns the saying “to memorize by heart”. From 0 AD to 1500 AD a growing consensus among scholars that the brain is the seat of power in the body, begins to solidify and becomes a commonly accepted fact.
As such physicians begin recognizing and diagnosing neurological disorders and even begin to devise surgical treatments to remedy them. But because of the ban on human dissection by the church nothing concrete is proven until the renaissance.
During the renaissance, the ban is lifted and the scientific/empirical method prevails. The great scholars like Leonardo da Vinci and Rene Descartes finally get to take a peek inside the human head and start documenting and making diagrams of the brain. During this process, the various different parts of the brain get named and their separate functions are hypothesized. Many of the basic facts about the human brain are discovered as a result of this first empirical look at the brain.
In the modern era research into the brain gathers tremendous momentum. This area of study begins to overflow with so much knowledge and further questions that it cannot be contained in a single category. Research and findings are split up and focused into numerous disciplines such as neuroscience, cognitive science, psychology, behavioral science, etc. Basic facts on the human brain become academic fact. This is when we start figuring out the functions of the different areas in the brain and how the brain actually works.
Right now we are getting closer and closer to answering that question completely. In fact, the majority of breakthroughs in brain sciences have happened in the last 15 years! Including the discovery that brain cells are constantly created and connecting to each other, even in late life. So stay tuned! The next big brain blockbuster is around the corner.