“Brain, Vision, Memory” by Charles G. Gross

A history of neuroscience, by an actual neuroscientist.  It was, mediocre.

The first chapter, too long. Tries to sum up the entire history of brain science…and doesn’t tell a good story. I learned that much of our early knowledge, came from wounded men from war, fights, gladiators…

the introduction of high-velocity bullets in the Russo-Japanese War that produced discrete lesions and often small entry and exit wounds, and thus made it possible to plot the locus of destroyed brain and correlate it with usual field defects” – pg 76

The chapter on Leonardo Da Vinci was good.

Owen -vs- Huxley debate chapter was interesting… Owen thought Hippocampus Minor not present in other primates, so humans were biologically unique.  Quite the debate, and the popular press followed, and sometimes mocked them. Huxley was vicious, and eventually won…but years later was magnanimous in a 60 page chapter about his previous intellectual enemy. Owen seems to have slighted Huxley, coincidentally after giving much support to Huxley, and Huxley responded with venom.

Huxley wrote…”Of course I was in a considerable rage….I was going to walk past, but he stopped me, and in the blandest and most gracious manner said, “I have received your note. I shall grant it.” The phrase and the implied condescension were quite “touching,” so much that if I stopped for a moment longer I must knock him into the gutter. I therefore bowed and walked off.” pg 146

I have to end with a Da Vinci quote, I will leave it to the reader to discern the topic:

“...confers with the human intelligence and sometimes has intelligence itself, and although the will of man desires to stimulate it, it remains obstinate and takes its own course, and moving sometimes of itself without license or thought of man, whether he be sleeping or waking, and many times the man is awake and it is asleep, and many times the man wishes it to practice and it does not wish it; many times it wishes it and the man forbids it. It seems therefore that this creature has often a life and intelligence separate from the man and it would appear that the man is in the wrong in being ashamed to give it a name or exhibit it...” – pg 99


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