1st Edition

A History of the Brain
From Stone Age surgery to modern neuroscience

ISBN 9781848723658
Published December 8, 2014 by Psychology Press
404 Pages 120 B/W Illustrations

USD $56.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

A History of the Brain tells the full story of neuroscience, from antiquity to the present day. It describes how we have come to understand the biological nature of the brain, beginning in prehistoric times, and progressing to the twentieth century with the development of Modern Neuroscience.

This is the first time a history of the brain has been written in a narrative way, emphasizing how our understanding of the brain and nervous system has developed over time, with the development of the disciplines of anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, psychology and neurosurgery. The book covers:

  • beliefs about the brain in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome
  • the Medieval period, Renaissance and Enlightenment
  • the nineteenth century
  • the most important advances in the twentieth century and future directions in neuroscience.

The discoveries leading to the development of modern neuroscience gave rise to one of the most exciting and fascinating stories in the whole of science. Written for readers with no prior knowledge of the brain or history, the book will delight students, and will also be of great interest to researchers and lecturers with an interest in understanding how we have arrived at our present knowledge of the brain.

Table of Contents

1. Head or Heart? The Ancient Search For The Soul  2. The Discovery of the Nervous System  3. From Late Antiquity to the Renaissance: The Cell Doctrine  4. Searching for the Ghost in the Machine  5. A New Life Force: Animal Electricity  6. The Rise and Fall of Phrenology  7. The Nerve Cell Laid Bare  8. The Return of the Reflex  9. The Cartography of the Cerebral Cortex  10. The Rise of Psychiatry and Neurology  11. Solving the Mystery of the Nerve Impulse  12. The Discovery of Chemical Neurotransmission  13. Neurosurgery and Clinical Tales  14. Surveying the Last Fifty Years and Looking Ahead

View More



Andrew P. Wickens is Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. His main area of expertise is in biological psychology and neuroscience.


"Written as a narrative, this engaging book chronicles the history of neuroscience from antiquity to the modern era. Wickens (senior lecturer, Univ. of Central Lancashire, UK) spent over a decade crafting this educational story intended for anyone with an interest in the human brain. He focuses more on conveying compelling tales from the past than dry scientific facts and writes in a refreshingly jargon-free manner... Overall, Wickens's book is a valuable and unique neuroscience resource. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers." - C. L. Iwema, University of Pittsburgh, for CHOICE, August 2015

"I have been looking for many years for a good introduction to the history of neuroscience – and now I have found it! This book is both comprehensive and accessible, and it comes highly recommended." - Jamie Ward, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, UK

"A History of the Brain describes the fascinating narrative of how we have come to understand the workings of the brain and nervous system, and how notions of ourselves, and what it means to be human, have correspondingly changed over the millennia. Although there is no ending to this story, reading the ancient beginnings of it and the subsequent developments over the centuries helps to make sense of what we know of neuroscience today. I highly recommend this engaging book for the student of the history of psychology, history of science, and science itself." - David J Hardy, Loyola Marymount University, and University of California, Los Angeles, USA

"I enjoyed A History of the Brain immensely, Wickens has a deep knowledge of both the current state of neuroscience and the many issues surrounding its historical development. The book provides a chronological re-telling of events while also identifying persistent conceptual and methodological issues in the field. The style is engaging and interesting, and it will appeal to academics from a variety of fields, as well as the general public." - Jason Buhle, Department of Psychology, Columbia University, USA

"[Wickens] focuses more on conveying compelling tales from the past than dry scientific facts and writes in a refreshingly jargon-free manner. [...] Strewn throughout the book are numerous illustrations--including drawings, woodcuts, photographs, and diagrams--that add a richness of substance to the text by highlighting the historical context. Overall, Wickens' book is a valuable and unique neuroscience resource. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers." -C.L. Iwema, University of Pittsburgh, CHOICE

"Wickens' volume is chronologically organized around historical periods and the theorists and empiricsts within these periods who defined as well as challenged contemporary dogma... Additionally, Wickens' book is written in narrative format... Wickens' narrative story does not end in the 1950s but continues to contemporary events... In other words, Wickens' text extends into 21st-century developments in the neurosciences and, particularly, the cognitive neurosciences. This book is jargon-free and intended for general readers as well as more serious students or researchers. This volume is highly recommended for undergraduate history of neuroscience courses, cognitive neuroscience, and the philosophy of mind." -Paul Tibbetts, University of Dayton, Quarterly Review of Biology