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Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Images of How the Brain Works

    Carl Schoonover, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at Columbia University, has provided information and images about the function of the central nervous system that is as fascinating a read as it is a subject. Not one to tackle all aspects of this interesting book, Schoonover has engaged fellow scientists and historians to access the history of the study of the human brain from the Middle Ages to the present. The result is a book brimming with scientific information made readable by the author in the accompanying captions to the many photographs and reproductions of drawings that illuminates the purely scientific writing of the text of the book. The book opens with a well-written introduction and preface by the author who sets us on a journey to experience the ancient beliefs about the brain and the gradual probing of understanding how thoughts are transmitted and how the body works under the governorship of the brain. Beginning with Galen and progressing through Vesalius and Descartes (with some fascinating information on phrenology!) and Golgi, the beginning of Neuroscience as a subject begins the intensive writing and illustrations of Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852 - 1934), the Spanish histologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel laureate. From here until the end of the book are images now available through electron microscopy, MRI, and other sophisticated forms of imaging that present the art of the central nervous system. After reading the texts, returning to the book becomes an artistic experience as the illustrations are endlessly fascinating. PORTRAITS OF THE MIND is a book that marries science and art and will likely become a part of not only schools of science and medicine, but also schools of art. Very well written and produced, this book is highly recommended for the investigative mind! Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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