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date: 25 April 2019

Summary and Keywords

Knowledge of the brain as a body part is ancient. The term encephalos is found in Homer, but cognitive function was not ascribed to its contents. Certain of the Presocratics linked cognitive capacity to the brain. Similar views existed in the Hippocratic writings. For Plato, the brain’s cognitive role is due to its housing the rational soul. Aristotle regarded heart and brain as exerting sovereign control. In the Hellenistic period, the brain was systematically investigated, its cognitive and sensory capacities experimentally verified. Galen, building on this legacy and applying a rigorous experimental methodology, provided overwhelming proof that the brain mediated sensation and voluntary motion.

Keywords: anatomy and physiology, hegemonikon, nerves, pneuma, soul

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