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Abstract

The Ancient Greek Discovery of the Nervous System: Alcmaeon, Praxagoras and Herophilus

This paper shows that Alcmaeon and his theories were an important part of a developing conception of the brain and the nervous system. The vital contributions of Praxagoras of Kos, who suggested the existence of what we now call “neurons”, and Herophilus of Chalcedon, who distinguished between sensory and motor nerves and proved the existence of the nervous system by dissection, also established the foundation principles of neuroscience – though their role is sometimes forgotten. In this essay we trace the discovery of the nervous system through the investigations of these three thinkers. Combining astounding philosophical concepts with sharp observation, they conceived and demonstrated the existence of a nervous system by the 3rd Century BC. This discovery is central not only to neuroscience, but also to all of medicine and to our concept of the human organism; for it revealed the connection between the intelligent mind, the brain, and the body.


Author(s):

Konstantine PP and Peter KP



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