The first issue of the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences for 2010 has been released online. Included in this issue are three all new articles which address the Triune Brain in antiquity, the history of neuroscience research at MIT, and the discovery of reinforcing self-stimulation of the brain. Titles, authors and abstracts are listed below.
“The Triune Brain in Antiquity: Plato, Aristotle, Erasistratus” by C. U. M. (Chris) Smith, Vision Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. The abstract reads:
Tripartite neuropsychologies have featured through two and half millennia of Western thought. They received a modern airing in Paul MacLean’s well-known text The Triune Brain. This paper examines the origin of these triune psychophysiologies. It is argued that the first such psychophysiology was developed in the fifth century BCE in the Republic and its Pythagorean sequel, the Timaeus. Aristotle, Plato’s pupil and colleague, developed a somewhat similar theory, though this time based on his exhaustive biological researches. Finally, a generation later, Herophilus and Erasistratus at the Alexandrian Museum put together a more anatomically informed tripartite theory that, somewhat modified by Galen in the second century AD, remained the prevailing orthodoxy for nearly fifteen hundred years until it was overturned by the great figures of the Renaissance. Nonetheless, as already mentioned, the notion that human neuropsychology is somehow best thought of as having a tripartite structure has remained remarkably resilient and has reappeared time and again in modern and early modern times. This paper investigates its origins and suggests that it is perhaps now time to move on.
“The Neurosciences Research Program at MIT and the Beginning of the Modern Field of Neuroscience” by George Adelman, MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Cambridge, MA. The abstract reads:
The interdisciplinary field, “neuroscience,” began at MIT in 1962 with the founding of the Neurosciences Research Program (NRP) by Francis O. Schmitt and a group of US and international scientists — physical, biological, medical, and behavioral — interested in understanding the brain basis of behavior and mind. They organized and held specialist meetings of basic topics in neuroscience, and the journal and book publications over the next 20 years, based on these meetings, helped establish the new field.
“Origins and Import of Reinforcing Self-Stimulation of the Brain” by Henry J. de Haan. The abstract reads:
The phenomenon of self-stimulation of the brain was discovered in 1954. This was one of the more important discoveries in behavioral neuroscience and psychology. The present article examines the origins of the phenomenon, describing some of the distal origins briefly, since each has a long history of its own and concentrates on the more proximal origins, including experiments preceding and closely related to the phenomenon and includes an account of the relevant knowledge at that time. A brief description of the events leading to Olds’ crucial, if serendipitous, experiment is retold, followed by descriptions of some early experiments that preceded the later voluminous body of work based on it. Finally, some views are expressed about the import of the finding.