Essays on great figures and important issues, advances and blind alleys-from trepanation to the discovery of grandmother cells-in the history of brain sciences.
Neuroscientist Charles Gross has been interested in the history of his field since his days as an undergraduate. A Hole in the Head is the second collection of essays in which he illuminates the study of the brain with fascinating episodes from the past. This volume's tales range from the history of trepanation (drilling a hole in the skull) to neurosurgery as painted by Hieronymus Bosch to the discovery that bats navigate using echolocation.
The emphasis is on blind alleys and errors as well as triumphs and discoveries, with ancient practices connected to recent developments and controversies. Gross first reaches back into the beginnings of neuroscience, then takes up the interaction of art and neuroscience, exploring, among other things, Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson" paintings, and finally, examines discoveries by scientists whose work was scorned in their own time but proven correct in later eras.
Charles G. Gross, a neuroscientist specializing in vision and the functions of the cerebral cortex, is Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. He is the author of Vision, Brain, Memory: Tales in the History of Neuroscience (MIT Press, 1998).