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Brain History?

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>From:=09yawn <yawn at easynet.co.uk>  
>Subject: Brain History?  
>Date:=09Sun, 4 Feb 1996 18:57:39 -0300  
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>Dear Neuronetters,
>yawn <yawn at easynet.co.uk>  asked, 
> 
>>When was the function of the brain first recognised?  During the proc=
ess   
>>of mummification the ancient Egyptians embalmed many organs but not t=
he   
>>brain, obviously not considering it not important. 
> 
>                             If the intended function of the brain is =
making 
>contents for the experiencing, then to answer, I should note that 
>Yawn in fact inquiries for the pneumatic-ventricularist localization o=
f 
>psychism. The aerial source of the *pneuma*, i.e., its conception 
>as a vivifying principle flowing out of the air, philosophically was t=
he 
>view of the Milesian Anaximenes, who elaborated an old notion into 
>a uniform psychophysical principle. But in neurobiology who 
>introduced it was Alcmaeon , who detached himself from the 
>Pythagorean views in the fact that he dissected (a practice 
>forbidden to Pythagoreans) , having carried out animals 
>dismemberments, anatomizations and experiments. No one of all 
>the ancient doxographers and philosophers mentioned this 
>fundamental fact, until a most enigmatic character, the monk 
>Chalcidius, one of the cue individuals to understand the incidence 
>of the syncretic myth in the psychophysics' history, did it while 
>performing ecclesiastical work in Cordoba (Spain) some eight-
>hundred years later (about 325). The pneumatic physiology was 
>developed in detail by the unknown author (perhaps a direct 
>Alcmaeon's disciple) of De morbo sacro, a -V century non-
>Hippocratic treatise on epilepsy setting the brain as (I) unique seat 
>of the mind, (II) meeting point of pneuma-dissolving blood ducts to 
>which we owe all our sensations, and (III) interpreter (hermeeneus) 
>bringing those sensations (carried from the sensory organs) into 
>consciousness. A century and half later we find again, in 
>Herophilus and Erasistratus, these pneumatic notions. The history 
>could be condensed as follows: the comrade of Alexander the 
>Great, Ptolomaeus 1st Lagos (*Soter*), asked Demetrius of 
>Phalerea (-354 to -283), an Aristotelian friend of Theophrastus, for 
>guidance about his own cultural program as Egyptian emperor 
>(-323 to -283). In this famous advice edifyingly *beg to a scientist 
>by a triumphant general*, the huge library at the Museum 
>(=3DMuses' Temple) of Alexandria took origin, as well as the arrival t=
o 
>Egypt of numerous researchers (Euclid, Apeles, Diodorus, 
>Hecateus, Herophilus, Erasistratus and many more), all tenured 
>academicians of Ptolomaeus who organized what was to become 
>the leading occidental research center for some five centuries. 
>There the brain cortex was studied specially by a native of Julis 
>(Cyclad Islands), called Erasistratus. He localized the 
>psychological functions in the brain convexity. Moreover, he 
>impressively remarked that *cortical circumvolutions are more 
>abundant in humans than in animals because humans prevail on 
>the other animals by spirit and by reasoning*.  To appreciate 
>adequately this feat of the pneumatic psychophysics, it is to be 
>remembered that the cortical folds or gyri were assimilated to 
>slithering intestinal loops or ansae from Erasistratus to Galen and 
>all across the middle Ages, until an expert (who bore the anatomy-
>biasing patronymic of Malacarne, 1774 -1816), latinized their 
>bowelous denomination as *enteroid processes*, an anatomical 
>term in use even until the end of the XIX century.  All over that 
>long span it was obvious that the forms of the cortical foldings were 
>not to be studied, on account of their being completely irregular, 
>though Willis (1621 - 1675) duly remarked their huge surface and 
>compared them to *warehouses and store-rooms* (cellulis & 
>apothecis) collecting memories for recollection. Really the true 
>biological fact is, on the contrary, that by means of genetically well=
-
>established sulci and fissures the cortex is marked off into well-
>defined lobes and minor areas, often of functional purport. But, 
>instead, absolute anarchy and haphazardry was expected; and, 
>since *there can be science only of the general*, any mapping of 
>such fortuitous skein was to be ludicrously superfluous. Bowels do 
>slide, so the *enteroid processes* also ought to deploy by chance 
>their positions and comparing cortices is to be unscientific: How 
>could be science of such pure hap? So prefigured as 
>unsystematizably tangled, in such ansae's cat's craddle, only the 
>deep cleft of the Sylvius' lateral cerebral fissure (a deep fossa at 
>whose bottom it lies an entire lobe!) was recognized as a constant 
>anatomical feature, but this happened solely in 1663; and 
>afterward, but not before 1829, the central sulcus or fissure of 
>Rolando too. Yet, more than two thousand years ahead, it was 
>Erasistratus, the very same who apud Vesalius was first in 
>comparing these brain gyri with intestinal ansae (tenuissimum 
>intestinorum anfractibus), who localized not in the brain's bulk but 
>in its cortex the psychological functions. How did he it? With 
>reference to the oft-recorded vivisection of living prisoners sent for=
 
>research by the Ptolomaean Pharaoh to Erasistratus and to 
>Herophilus of Chalcedony, both working in the Museum at the 
>same epoch, philosophers customarily accept the indiction of 
>Celsus and Tertullian, who almost five centuries later equated the 
>Chalcedonian with a butcher (lanius) on that ground; but of course 
>natural scientists cannot receive the tale since, had Erasistratus 
>dissected prisoners still alive, it would not have been possible for 
>him to believe that arteries are void of blood and convey only 
>pneuma, as he trusted. So the cortical localization could not issue 
>from such butcherly source. Also following Alcmaeon, who in the 
>late -VI/early -V centuries had the sensorium commune (=3D tees 
>psychees heegemonikon or leading moiety of mindfulness, 
>synaistheesis or koinee aistheesis) emplaced in the encephalon in 
>bulk or taken as a whole; and partly coinciding with the widespread 
>Platonic view explaining the human erect station by putting in the 
>head the heaven-fixed roots (namely the intellective part of our 
>psychism) of us, hanging celestial plants (Tim. 90a), too 
>Herophilus (c. -330 to c. -250), just as the corticalist Erasistratus,=
 
>attuned that broad encephalic emplacement of psychological 
>functions. Herophilus put it into the ventricular cavities he carefull=
y 
>explored and mapped for Western science. In doing so he even 
>approached to the exposition of an afferent-efferent circulation of 
>the neuropsychical pneuma.  So, it was with Herophilus that the 
>pneumatic theory became ventricularist.  It started in the 
>*observation* that a pneuma only can be contained in recipients, a 
>view maintained until 1796 when Soemmering emplaced the 
>sensorium commune in a liquid unexplored by Herophilus, viz., the 
>cerebrospinal fluid filling brain ventricles and perfusing 
>microscopically the gray. 
>=09  From Galen (about 130 - 201) on, the pneuma constituted 
>the tightest physical reality contacting with a mind (prooton 
>organon tees psychees, first instrument of the mind). Galen, 
>himself, left undecided if such reality was extraphysical or bodily. 
>Upon the syncretic myth, of course for many subsequent 
>pneumatic-ventricularist psychophysiologists the pneuma became 
>decidedly preternatural. But the quarrel to feature such not 
>separately observable pneuma as either the bodiliest part of the 
>(still metempsychoseable) soul or the most spiritual (yet 
>ascensionable into divinity) part of the terran body, was operatively 
>ineffectual both for medicine, natural philosophy and theology. 
>What Galen took as sure (after having doubted about a localization 
>of the mind amid the brain substance: cf. Soury ), was that the 
>psychological dynamism (psychikee dyynamis) was lodged in the 
>brain ventricles, just as Herophilus did teach. For Galen, just in the=
 
>choroid plexuses vascularizing the ventricules the *vital dynamism* 
>(pneuma zootikon) transmutes itself into pneuma psychikon or 
>mental pneuma. Upon which, the sensations result from two 
>factors: (I) a prefatory and transmitted alteration of the sensitive 
>organs and (II) a grasping distinction, or discernment to 
>apprehend such alterations at their *ingression into the leading 
>principle (heegemonikon) (V, 636, 644)*.  Following Galen, the 
>pneumatic-ventricularist theory on the brain localization of the 
>sensorium commune, was championed by Posidonius of 
>Byzantium, son of Philostorgius; Nemesius of Emesa, (both floruit 
>c. 340 to c. 420), and Aurelius Augustinus (354-430). They all, 
>after having discerned diverse chief mental functions, attributed 
>them to different parts of the brain ventricular system. Such 
>*correlation* waxed into the prime product that, afterwards, this 
>psychophysical tradition continued trimming and maturing for more 
>than a millenium. It was so even after Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 
>1519), paying no heed to the rather ungraphic descriptions of 
>Theophilus Protospatharii, Johannes Damascenus, Costa ben 
>Luca, Rhazes (whose manuscript, representatively, was copied 
>putting the four ventricles as letter-sized circles arranged as 
>required not by anatomy but by the Arabic writing - see note), Haly 
>Abbas, Avicenna, Constantinus the African, Cophus, Algazel, W. 
>of Conches, Richard of Salerno, Albert Magnus, Richardus 
>Anglicus, Thomas of Aquin and many more . . . , injected wax to 
>find and draft the true shape of those strange brain cavities where 
>the soul was to live, play and dream. 
>--------------------------------------
>Note on the Arabic MS: 
>      The MS (Arabic Slane 2866, Bibl. Nat.) portion was published, 
>without translation from Classic Arabic, by W. Sudhoff, *Die Lehre 
>von den Hirnventrikeln in textlicher und graphischer Tradition des 
>Altertums und Mittelalters*, Arch. f. Gech. d. Medizin 7 nr. 3 
>(1913), page 162, fig. 1. The second line of the MS (the first has 
>nothing to do with the brain) reads (from right to left, certainly): 
>*Seventh: In the Brain*. The fourth line reads: *The brain is not 
>compact but has cavities inducing someones to dub them brain's 
>bellies*. The fifth line, lost the meaning of a missing initial drawin=
g 
>that doubtless arranged two circles one above other and from their 
>midpoint initiated a second pair, so as to depict the ventricles' 
>anatomical ordering, portrays brain ventricles as ooo o (the second o,=
 risen) in the sense 
>of reading, saying *two of these (bellies) are in the brain's fore and=
 
>another in the middle and other at rear as it is shown in the 
>drawing and near these piping there are bodies of different shapes 
>sometimes open and sometimes close ...*, so this representation 
>was forfeited in the printed editions of Rhazes (year 1500 and 
>reprintings) until K. Sudhoff, Ein Beitrag z. Gesch. Der Anatomie 
>im mittelalter, speziell der Anatomischen Graphik (Puschmann's 
>Studien z. Gesch. D. Medizin, Heft 4, Leipzig, 1908), wherefrom 
>W. Sudhoff took it. Translation was provided in 1980 by M. F. 
>Crocco, upon kind help of my former teacher Prof. Machado 
>Mouret, to *Las fuentes de Calcidio (siglo IV d.C.): Como se 
>recopilo la neuropsicologia de Alcmeon de Crotona ocho siglos 
>despues de su muerte?*, Investig. UBA Numero 6773, 
>unpublished; abstract in: *Guia de Investig. en curso en la Univ. 
>de Bs. Aires, 1979/81* (Inst. Bibliotecol., University of B. Aires, 
>1984), vol. II p. 373.
>-----------------------------------------
>Note on this answer:
>Of course, save the first words this is a cut and pasted morsel taken =
from
>a paper (Crocco, M.F., *The sources of Chalcidius: How was Alcmeon's 
>neuropsychology set down eight centuries after his death?*, 
>Investig. Univ. Bs. Aires Number 6773, Neurobiology Res. Ctr., Buenos 
>Aires, 1981) which I pray to cite if the morsel is deemed useful 
>enough for any reproduction.
>------------------------------------------ 
>      LITERATURE TO YAWN: 
> C. Eggers Lan, El concepto del alma en Homero, Facultad de Fil. y Let=
ras, Univ. of 
>Buenos Aires, 1967; Las nociones de tiempo y eternidad de Homero a Pla=
ton, 
>Thes., ibidem, 1978. 
> M. Wellmann, Alkmaion von Kroton, Archeion (Roma) XL (1929), 156-159.=
 
> Hirschberg, J., *Alkmaion's Verdienst um die Augenkunde*, Arch. F. Op=
htalm. 105 
>(1921), 129; also,  
>*Die Seh-Theorien der griechischen Philosophen in ihren Beziehungen zu=
r 
>Augenheilkunde*, Z. Augenheilk. 3 (1920), 108. 
> M. Timpanaro-Cardini, *Originalita di Alcmeone*, Atene e Roma 4 (1938=
), 233. 
> J. Wrobel, Platonis Tim=E6us interprete Chalcidio cum eiusdem comment=
ario ad 
>fidem librorum ac scriptorum recensuit, lectionum varietatem adiecit, =
indices 
>auctorum rerum & verborum, descriptiones geometricas & astronomicas & 
>imaginem codicis Cracoviensis photographicam addidit (Teubner, Lipsi=E6=
, 1876). 
>(The information on Alcmeon is in c. 246). 
> B.W. Switalsky, *Des Chalcidius Kommentar zu Platos Timaeus*, Beitrag=
. z. 
>Gesch. d. Phil. d. Mittelalters (Munster), 1902. 
> Steinheimer, E. *Untersuchungen Ueber die Quellen des Chalcidius*, In=
aug. Diss., 
>Aschaffenburg, 1912. 
> A. Gercke, *Eine platonische Quelle des Neuplatonismus*, Rhein. Mus. =
41 (1886), 
>266. 
> W. Kroll, *Chalcidius*, in Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encycl. d. klass. Alter=
tums-
>Wissensch. Bd. 3, 1894. 
> M. Wellmann, *Die Schrift peri hierees nousou des Corpus Hippocraticu=
m*, Arch. f. 
>Gesch. d. Med. 22 (1929), 290-312.  
> Diller, H., *Stand u. Aufgaben der Hippokrates Forschung*, Jahrb. Mai=
nzer Akad. 
>d. Wiss. u.d. Litter. (1959). 
> Edelstein, L., *The genuine works of Hippokrates', Bull. Hist. Med. 7=
 (1939), 236; 
>see also, article *Hippokrates* in: Pauly-Wissowa Real-Encycl. d. klas=
s. Altertums-
>Wissensch. Bd. 8, 1913. 
> Ch. Singer, Vesalius on the human brain (Oxford U. Press, Oxford, 195=
2). 
> Sudhoff, W., *Die Lehre von den Hirnventrikeln in textlicher und grap=
hischer 
>Tradition des Altertums und Mittelalters*, Arch. f. Gech. d. Medizin 7=
 nr. 3 (1913), 
>149-205.  
> J. Soury, Le systeme nerveux central. Structure et fonctions. Histoir=
e critique des 
>theories et des doctrines, two vols. (Carre & Naud - Masson, Paris, 18=
99): vol. I, pp. 
>259-327. 
> Meyer-Steineg, Th., *Studien zur Physiologie des Galenos*, Arch. f. G=
esch. d. 
>Medizin 5 (1912), 172-224 (the section II: *Allgemeine Physiologie des=
 
>Nervensystems*, is in pp. 195-224). 
> Leyacker, J., *Zur Entstehung der Lehre von der Hirnventrikeln als Si=
tz psychischer 
>Vermoegen*, Arch. Gesch. d. Medizin. 19 (1927), 253-286. 
> E. Grunthal, *Geschichte der makroskopischen Morphologie des Menschli=
chen 
>Grosshirnreliefs nebst Beitragen zur Entwicklung des Ideen einer Lokal=
isierung 
>psychischer Funktionen*, Bibl. Psychiatr. Neurol. 100 (1957), 94-128. 
> O. Temkin, *Byzantine Medicine, tradition and empiricism*, Dumbarton =
Oaks Pap. 
>16 (1962), 97-115. 
> B. Domansky, *Die Psychologie des Nemesius*, Beitr. z. Gesch. d. Phil=
. d. 
>Mittelalters 3 nr. 1 (Munster, 1900), 90. 
> Pagel, W. *Medieval Renaissance Contributions to Knowledge of the Bra=
in and its 
>Functions*, ch. in The Brain and its Functions (Thomas, Springfield, 1=
957).
>

      
       =3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@=3D@
       Prof. M.F. Crocco,
       <postmaster at neubio.sld.ar> 
                            
       Director, Centro de Investig. Neurobiologicas, Ministry of
Health & Welfare, Argentine Republic; and 
       Head, Lab. of Electroneurobiological Res., 
Hospital "Dr. Jose Tiburcio Borda", Municipality of Buenos Aires,
       Office:  Phone/Fax (54 1) 306 -7314
                e-mail <postmaster at neubio.gov.ar>
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