Dr. Geoff Bunn presents a journey through 5,000 years of our understanding of the most complex thing in the known universe: the brain, in this major 10-part BBC Radio 4 series. Human beings have long been fascinated by the brain and how it fulfils its many functions. This groundbreaking cultural history explores the development of our ideas about the mind from Neolithic times to the present day. Starting with prehistoric trepanation and Ancient Egyptian practices, he then focusses on the ideas of Hippocrates, Galenm and early Christian and Islamic scholars. He introduces pioneering scientists such as Thomas Willis and looks at the impact of electricity and evolutionary theory on our understanding of the brain. In addition, he explores the synapse and the part Freud almost played in the history of the brain, reflects on the invention of the EEG, and discovers the impact of neurology on how we understand ourselves today.
The series is written and presented by Dr Geoff Bunn of Manchester Metropolitan University. Actors Paul Bhattacharjee and Jonathan Forbes provide the voices of those who have written about the brain across the ages. Actor Hattie Morahan gives the Anatomy Lesson, establishing the part of the brain to be highlighted in each episode. The original, atmospheric score is supplied by composer Barney Quinton. The producer is Marya Burgess.
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"Educational and lively"
It was really well-done. I enjoyed the actors who sounded eager and entertaining trying to imitate scientists' accents. What I liked about the series is that the narrators didn't hurl tons of specific terms and factual data at you at lightning speed so that you lose the plot completely.
The book covers a wide range of topics starting from Ancient Greece and Rome, then addressing the Renaissance period to Enlightenment up to modern times. The actors come up with curious examples from the history of brain studies (a story of a certain Anne Greene who was hanged in 1650 but died several years later, for instance).
Some of the scientists mentioned are Hippocrates, Galen, Leonardo da Vinci, Ibn Sina, Vesalius, Luigi Galvani, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Otto Loewi, Henry Hallett Dale, William Grey Walter, Hans Berger, Edgar Adrian et al.
Here's the list of some topics embraced in the book: trepanation; epilepsy; brain dissection; grey matter and white matter; the circle of Willis; neurons, dendrites and axons; nerve net theory; Functional magnetic resonance imaging.
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