Memories and Visions: A Difficult History of Neuroscience

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1999, Vol 44(2), 160–161. Review of the book, “Brain, Vision, Memory: Tales in the History of Neuroscience” (see record 1998-07448-000). This book is a collection of essays by a neuroscientist on the history of neuroscience. The first chapter provides overviews of visual cortex. In spite of the fact that it is a relatively recent scientific concept, the author, Gross, searches for it in ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern ages covering the period from Egyptians up to our contemporaries. The second chapter is an account of Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings, especially those that relate to the author's interest in “the brain and eye.” In chapter three, the reader will find the details on brain anatomy and functions as described in Swedenborg's Oecomonia Regni Animalis. The fourth chapter traces the history of a famous 19th-century argument between the anatomist and paleontologist Richard Owen and the evolutionist T. H. Huxley. The fifth and last chapter is a history of recent neuroscience. The tales may fascinate neuroscientists, but will disappoint the general reader and especially historians, who will find Gross's approach anachronistic, historically uninformative, and indifferent to context. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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