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The story of the brain
An animated history of our understanding of the brain. Throughout history the grey matter between our ears has puzzled even the brightest minds. In Ancient Greece, nobody believed that thinking came from the brain. Instead, the heart, liver and spleen were marked as the essential organs for intelligence, reason and emotion. These mistaken beliefs meant progress was slow, but eventually, dissections proved that it was the brain that was at the centre of the nervous system, connected to every part of the body through a network of stringy nerves. By the 1700s, experiments by an Italian physician, Luigi Galvani, showed that the nerves carried electrical impulses which operated the muscles. Gradually scientists began to build a better picture of the way the brain worked. They noticed how damage to specific areas could affect abilities like smell, hearing, speaking and memory. These discoveries opened the door for modern neuroscience and scientists began to probe deeper: mapping the brain's function, measuring its electrical activity and examining the conscious and unconscious mind. First broadcast on 'Dara O Briain's Science Club' on BBC Two in December 2012.
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