Mind the Gap
Dr Geoff Bunn's 10 part History of the Brain is a journey through 5000 years of our understanding of this complex organ in our heads. From Neolithic times to the present day, he reveals the contemporary beliefs about what the brain is for and how it fulfils its functions.
While referencing the core physiology and neuroscience, this is a cultural, not a scientific history. What soon becomes obvious is that our understanding of this most inscrutable organ has in all periods been coloured by the social and political expedients of the day no less than by the contemporary scope of scientific or biological exploration.
Episode 7: Mind the Gap, focuses on how the microscope allowed neurologists to detail the structure of brain cells. While Sigmund Freud, who started out as a neurologist, had hoped his gold chloride staining method would revolutionise brain research, it was in fact Camillo Golgi's La Reazione Nero, using silver nitrate, that enabled brain scientists to see the cell composition more clearly. Combined with the Gudden microtome, which provided extremely thin sections of brain tissue, neurologists began to explore how neurons are connected, with Charles Sherrington coining the term synapse to describe the gap between them.
The series is entirely written and presented by Dr Geoff Bunn of Manchester Metropolitan University, with actors Paul Bhattacharjee and Jonathan Forbes providing the voices of those who have written about the brain from Ancient Egypt to the present day, and actor Hattie Morahan giving the Anatomy Lesson which establishes the part of the brain to be highlighted in each episode - in this instance the nerve cell or neuron. The original, atmospheric score is supplied by composer, Barney Quinton.
Producer: Marya Burgess.