What you'll learn

  • Origins of neuroscience in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century debates
  • Emergence of reflex theory and arguments over the evolution of the nervous system
  • Emergence of neurology and neurosurgery as medical specialties
  • Lobotomy and the debates over psychosurgery

Course description

This course examines the development of the neurosciences from the late eighteenth century to the early twenty-first century, with the aim of providing students with a firm foundation in their historical, philosophical, technical, and cultural contexts.

Topics to be examined include the origins of neuroscience in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century debates over phrenology and the localization of mental faculties; the emergence of reflex theory and arguments over the evolution of the nervous system; the emergence of neurology and neurosurgery as medical specialties; lobotomy and the debates over psychosurgery; the technological turn in the brain sciences and the emergence of neuroscience during the cold war; the birth of modern brain scanning technologies; Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases of the nervous system; artificial intelligence and neural networks; and contemporary debates over autism and neurodiversity.

Instructor

  • Lecturer on the History of Science, Harvard University

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Division of Continuing Education

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