CogniFit's Science blog: Brain Research – A Brief History

Brain Research – A Brief History

The mind is an amazing part of our body and integral to our thinking and functioning. Scientists and medical professionals have long been interested to understand how the brain operates and what makes us think.
This brain research has uncovered many interesting findings. We offer here a brief history of brain research and some key results.

The earliest known brain research was performed by the ancient Egyptians as a way to better understand how head trauma affects the functioning of the brain. It slowly adapted into an analysis of mental processes. The earliest references to this research occurred during the 17th century BC. The ancient text discussed 48 ailments and how head trauma might affect brain functioning.

In the sixth century BC, ancient Greeks theorized that the mind is located in the brain. Earlier theories focused on the center of consciousness being in the heart. An ancient Greek scientist named Alcmaeon of Croton dissected a brain and uncovered the optic nerve and its connection to the brain. He also theorized how sleep occurs in the brain.

Other Greek researchers played important roles in brain research. The father of medicine Hippocrates referred to the brain as the origin of intelligence.

Following the fall of Rome, brain research was conducted by several Islamic scientists. A man named Najab ud-din Muhammad made some important achievements during the 10th century by uncovering a number of psychiatric conditions. Among them were mania, psychosis, depression, neurosis and impotence.

Over the next few centuries, a number of other conditions of the brain were discovered including hallucinations, dementia, vertigo and strokes.

Key developments in brain research occurred during the late 1800’s. These findings were supported by the microscope. Two scientists at that time both discovered the presence of neurons. In 1906 these two scientists shared the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine.

And throughout the 20th century, brain research continued to evolve and important findings arose. The research focused on molecular and chemical changes to the brain. And the field of neuroscience developed over recent times.

In the 1960’s several important organizations related to brain research were established. These organizations worked to standardize on the ways in which the brain and its functions are studied (such as motor control). In 1960 the International Brain Research Organization was established. It was followed in 1968 by the establishment of the European Brain and Behavioural Society. And recent improvements in computer analysis have further enhanced our understanding of the brain.